When Warner Bros. announced it was becoming a Blu-ray exclusive studio, most observers of the format war agreed that it was a mortal wound for HD DVD. The only remaining question was, how long is HD DVD going to last? Well, according to the latest NPD data (as compiled by Bill Hunt at The Digital Bits), not very long. During the week of January 5 to 12--the first week the market had to respond to the Warner announcement--Blu-ray absolutely trounced HD DVD in hardware sales, grabbing 92.53 percent of the high-def disc-player market. That's pretty ugly for the HD DVD camp, but it only gets worse. The most damning aspect of these numbers is that they do not include the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive--only standalone players. We previously thought HD DVD's only road to victory was by selling tons of cheap standalone HD DVD players, so the fact that relatively expensive Blu-ray players are starting to sell makes it seem like this format war has been officially declared over--by the consumers.
Of course, Toshiba slashed prices on its HD DVD players just a few days after this data ends--and we're very interested to see what kind of impact that has on hardware sales--but it's going to be hard (if not impossible) to overcome Blu-ray's momentum. Blu-ray also continues to outsell HD DVD in software sales, largely because of the PS3 user base. We'll be weighing all these new developments in our next update to our Quick Guide to HD DVD vs. Blu-ray, which will go up early next week.