So, it finally hit the fan. Toshiba has ended its HD-DVD business. This obviously impacts consumers since most people have wisely decided to stay away from this market until one format won out against the other.
What consumers don't know about these mortal enemies is that this war was being fought on two fronts. The other front being software, mainly codecs and platforms. Unbeknownst to the regular DVD Joe and Sally, all Blu-Ray players are shipped with Java ME.
Considering the horror that is Java ME on phones, you'll be happy to know that the Java ME that ships on Blu-Ray devices is the CDC profile. The CDC profile has considerably more features than the CLDC one that usually ships on phones but still falls short of .Net Compact and Java SE. Unfortunately, the CDC still has many optional packages too which means that fragmentation card is still in the deck. I'm not sure anymore if .Net Compact was shipping on HD-DVD players, information on the subject is very scarce but my belief is that it was. I know for a fact that .Net Compact ships on the X-box 360.
Officially, the Java that ships on Blu-Ray is called BDJ and they are basically two profiles, one that offers networking and the other one does not. So, for example, the Java that ships with the PS3 is BDJ with networking. Well, all these features are basically meant to offer a richer interactive experience on BR disks. However, with the rise of casual gaming and the presence of USB ports on most of these devices, I wouldn't be too surprised if some games started coming down the pipe using this technology. The problem so far has been about getting an SDK. In other words, BDJ has not been widely available since the movie studios aren't sure if they want developers writing code for these devices. The fear is that these SDKs will be used for cracking the copy protection of disks.
Well, I don't know if this coincidental or not, but we are finally starting to see BDJ related bits being made publicly available. You can see a introduction to BDJ from its main architect here. The HD cookbook project is also available from java.net.
So what does this all mean for consumers and developers? Well, if you bought an HD-DVD drive, welcome to the world of betamax. If you bought a Blu-Ray player, congratulations, you'll be able to get content for many years to come. For the Java developer, it means yet another way to leverage your existing skill set. With potentially hundreds of millions of Blu-Ray players that will be sold in the next few years, you have yet another avenue to market applications. For the .Net Compact developer, you still have a small, but sturdy niche of Windows CE based smart phones that you can still code for but that's about it.