Why HD DVD Will Beat Blu-Ray: A Better Name For Mere Mortals

Dharmesh Shah
Dharmesh Shah

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I was recently shopping at BestBuy with my wife, Kirsten.  She's close to the opposite end of the tech-geek spectrum as I am (she uses a computer every day, but mostly for useful things and is not particularly concerned about some of the religious debates around technology and the relative merits of one thing vs. the other.  She's not going to be running out to buy an iPhone as soon as it launches (I likely will be).  

I'm currently in the market for a new DVD player at home.  I'm generally not big on DVDs as I find the whole notion of moving data bits around using atoms organized into shiny disks someone quaint.  My parents are visiting us from India, and there are some things they want to watch that are not "in the cloud" somehwere -- only on DVD.  But I digress.  

So, we are in the market for a DVD player.  I've been following the HD / DVD Blu-Ray debate for a while -- primarily as a curious bystander, because it didn't really affect me all that much -- until now.  As I was walking down the DVD player aile in the store with Kirsten, she paused and pointed to one and said "why not just buy this one".  (It was an HD DVD player).  I asked her why that particular one had caught her eye.  Her response:  "Well, it's an HD DVD player.  Aren't you all over that whole HD thing?"  She basically thought HD DVD was what connected to our HDTV and that was that.  The whole notion of Blu-Ray with all it's technical merits never crossed her mind.  It just made sense to her that an HD DVD went along with an HD TV.  In her mind, Blu-Ray wasn't even in the race.  Decision made.  

So, my question is this:  Of the thousands of mere mortals (i.e. not tech-geeks) that will make the DVD player buying decision in the coming months and years, how many times will this story repeat itself?  How many people will walk out the door with an HD DVD player simply because they think it's the "natural" choice"?  How many of these decisions will it take for HD DVD to become the prevailing standard not on technical merit, but just because of the name?  If we think back to the VHS vs. BetaMax debate, I find a bit of similarity.  VHS (when people asked) stood for "Video Home System".  BetaMax didn't stand for anything.  Will history repeat itself?   What do you think? How important is a simple name in helpling customers make a decision?
 
 

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