Blu-ray vs. HD DVD, or is it?

The Economist has an interesting article about the current state of Blu-ray vs. HD DVD, and makes an interesting case that this is not the battle to watch.They suggest that the real battle is going to be over how the content is delivered.

They suggest that thumb drives may be an option, and that faster networks are another option:

One candidate is the thumb drive, the non-volatile memory stick you plug into a computer’s USB port. Their storage capacity has soared over the past few years from megabytes to gigabytes. Industry insiders expect that, within a few years, a 32-gigabyte USB drive capable of holding as much as a Blu-ray disc will cost about the same as the latter does today. And it will be more portable, more rugged, easier to play and recordable to boot.

But before Moore’s Law can work its inexorable magic, the telephone companies will start pushing their own alternative. Over the past few years, firms such as Verizon and AT&T have been laying fat optical pipes over the “last mile” from their local telephone stations to people’s homes. In what they call a “triple play”, they aim to bundle television and broadband internet access along with telephone services in order to slow the inroads being made in their own business by the cable-television providers.

That’s only half of it. Verizon’s FiOS (fibre-optic service) can deliver raw data at speeds up to 50 megabits per second. That’s twice the as much as needed to deliver the video quality of a Blu-ray or HD DVD disc. AT&T’s U-verse isn’t far behind.

Both see high-definition video as the key to beating the cable providers, which can’t match the phone companies’ ability to provide massive bandwidth to individual households. The cable industry’s new DOCSIS 3.0 technology can transmit data at a whopping 160 megabits per second, but the bandwidth has to be shared by all the households on the same cable loop. As a result, few cable subscribers can get more than five or six megabits per second—nowhere near enough to pump high-definition video into the home.

My money is on faster networks, why send physical media when you can send bits, then again sending a Blu-ray/HD DVD

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