Here’s an interesting article on the hi-definition format war. From the article:
Blu-ray and HD-DVD are as much a revolution as Video-CD was compared to VHS. They’re an evolution at most but of course that’s not something the companies pushing the formats want you to realize.
The author notes that HD could be achieved on standard DVDs (which it could, albeit compressed and sparing extras), but that companies are forcefully pushing new technologies onto consumer to make up for lost DVD player and disc margins. Can’t say I disagree.