The Battle for Hearts and Disk Drives
By Telis Demos

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Howard Stringer calls himself the "Sony warrior." Now he's got himself a war. On March 28, Toshiba will be the first to enter the high-def-videodisc battlefield when it launches a $499 HD-DVD player. Sony, which has developed the competing Blu-ray format, won't have a unit on shelves until Samsung's $999 player debuts May 23. Stringer said back in January he "isn't frightened" of the price or timing difference because Blu-ray has more device makers backing it. That's true. Pioneer will also launch a Blu-ray player this year, although the date isn't set. Sony's own Blu-ray player is the PlayStation 3, and most observers now expect that its release will be pushed back to the holidays. Meanwhile, Microsoft is scrambling to launch an HD-DVD add-on to the Xbox 360 before the PS3 hits shelves. All's fair in the format wars.