Wal-Mart Goes Blu-ray Only — The Format War Tipping Point?

Bentonville, Ark., Feb. 15, 2008 – Wal-Mart Stores, U.S. today announces that its 4,000 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores will move forward this year with one hi-definition movie and hardware format: Blu-ray. The change will take place quickly over the next several months whereby the retailer will phase out HD DVD offerings and reorganize shelf space. By June, Wal-Mart stores, Sam’s Clubs, http://www.walmart.com/ and http://www.samsclub.com/ will offer only Blu-ray movies and hardware machines, as well as standard definition movies and DVD players, and up converts.

"We’ve listened to our customers, who are showing a clear preference toward Blu-ray products and movies with their purchases," said Gary Severson, senior vice president, Home Entertainment, Wal-Mart, U.S.

Full press release

Bill Hunt over at The Digital Bits I think summed this up quite nicely:

The simple fact is, this format war is over. It doesn’t matter what Toshiba does now, Blu-ray has been chosen by mainstream retailers as THE next-generation high-def disc format. It’s almost unprecedented – I can’t remember the last time the retail community weighed in this publicly on a format war, in so short a span of time. I don’t even recall retailer reaction being this swift back when standard DVD banished Divx a decade ago. What this means is that Paramount and Universal now have no choice but to make Blu-ray Disc support announcements of their own and soon, as they’re currently backing a format that retailers will no longer carry. As such, you can expect those announcements VERY soon, almost certainly in the next few weeks. Frankly, we’d be surprised if the final scene of this messy opus took longer than the end of March to play out.