I wanted to put out some of my ideas and predictions for the next 18 months concerning the coming HDTV disc format war. Some of these may be proven wrong in as little as 24 hours during E3, but I figured I would put my guesses out first anyway. I tried to do them in semi chronological order. I will revisit them over time and see how I do.
1. Microsoft will release a HD-DVD add-on for Xbox 360 for less than $200 (maybe as low as $100) by the time the PS3 launches in US.
2. Microsoft will offer a bundle of Xbox 360 and HD-DVD player for the same or lower price as the PS3 in CY06. Microsoft will not however revise the Xbox 360 hardware to include a HD-DVD internally in CY06.
3. HD-DVD stand alone players will outsell Blu-Ray stand alone players in calendar year 2006 in US.
4. PS3 and its built in Blu-Ray player will outsell the combined sales of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray standalone players world wide in CY06.
5. There will be no dual format stand alone players available in CY06 in US.
6. The first fully capable dual format player will be Windows Vista based Media Center boxes that include individual drives for each format. This will not happen in CY06 and may not even happen in 1H07. The machines may not be sold with both drives but will be easily upgradeable to add which ever drive did not ship in the original configuration.
7. All players sold by the beginning of CY07 will be 1080p output capable and support HDMI 1.3.
8. The war between these formats will not be resolved prior to Christmas 2007 and as a result sales will suffer for both.
9. Sometime in 2008 a winner will emerge or dual format players will become universal. Universal players never caught on for DVD-A and SACD however and look how those formats fared.
10. A prediction from my friend Jerry (that I have seen other places as well) - "Both camps will spend so much time fighting each other, that by the time a winner is decided, everyone will be downloading their movies over the internet." I however don't quite agree with this. Mostly because even using H.264 a 2 hour long 1080p file will be about 20 GB. The ability to download files of that size in a reasonable amount of time seems quite a distance away.