It seems that a Wal-Mart HD-DVD player for $299 may have been too good to be true. Both Wal-Mart and Chinese manufacturer Fuh Yuan have denied that any such order has been placed. More here.
Toms Hardware reckon that even though Blueray is leading HD-DVD by a factor of 2:1 any lead can probably be attributed more to PS3 penetration than to consumer mind share. They conclude that it is still impossible to predict the eventual winner of the format war. I tend to agree with at least part of their analyses, Sony included UMD as the default format for millions of PSP’s, but expensive, proprietary formats don’t tend to gain traction when they are competing with cheaper, more ubiquitous formats. Toshiba may have put Blueray into checkmate by outsourceing HD-DVD production to Chinese manufactorers. And it seems that WAL-MART may be the first to introduce HD-DVD players for around $299. Blueray machines typically cost a lot more than that. If the rumors are true then history may be about to repeat itself for Sony.