Brick-And-Mortar Retailers Clear Up Toshiba's HD-DVD Picture

If Wal-Mart says no, you must take your HD-DVD and go.

Toshiba is giving up its war against Sony's Blu-Ray efforts because of Wal-Mart's decision, as well as NetFlix's and Best Buy's -- to abandon HD-DVD in favor of the Blu-Ray technology for those high definition DVDs.

It didn't matter that NBC Universal's Universal Pictures, Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG have been behind HD-DVD. The tide was slowly turning against HD-DVDs. And when the consumer blows one way, consumer product manufacturers look for the nearest weather vane.

Wal-Mart helped put the kibosh on things -- a familiar scenario to big business. Those big city slicker executive stories -- especially those of the Hollywood kind -- come to mind when the most powerful in Hollywood make the trip to Bentonville, Ark., the home of Wal-Mart, to make sure that America's entertainment distributor to the masses is entirely happy.



Marketing plans for DVDs and home video have brought the likes of DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg to the land of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton to make sure "Shrek" holiday DVDs got the right placement on shelves.

In the past, major toymakers made the same pilgrimage -- otherwise that funky surfing doll with an electronic dude-voice would be pushed to the back shelves behind the Bratz line.

All this is very quaint: brick-and-mortar distributors seeming just as important as entertainment producers, or those newfangled Internet businesses and retailers.

To be sure, the Blu-Ray/HD- DVD battle was a delicate one. Until recently consumers were not hurrying to make a move for one side over the other -- especially with all those other fancy new technologies to consider first. Many seemed to be thinking about their first steps in the digital world -- like their first HD TV set, or their first iPhone, or their first DVRs.

As far as Toshiba is concerned, Wal-Mart's endorsement tipped that delicate balance.  

Lessons learned for upcoming entertainment technology battles?  Have big-time marketing resources at the ready to wage a long war, or follow Wal-Mart's current marketing theme:  "Save Money. Live Better."  

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