The Last Format War: Launching the High-Defi nition DVD
By the end of 2007, many observers of the US consumer electronics industry were showing signs of fatigue with what already felt like an endless marketing war around competing formats for the high defi nition heir to the wildly successful DVD. As early as 2002, when Toshiba pitched an abortive redlaser system against a new generation blue-laser player supported by Sony, one fi nancial analyst complained that “the DVD format battle is horrible. It will continue until I die” (Gartner Dataquest analyst Mary Craig quoted in Ross 2002: C2). The subsequent competition between Toshiba’s HDDVD and Sony’s Blu-ray formats for high-defi nition optical discs, battling over what Microsoft founder Bill Gates has called “the last physical format there will ever be,” can illuminate the complex mix of players, economic calculation, and consumer desire which governs the process of innovation in the consumer electronics industry (Sethi 2005).