It hasn’t been a particularly good start into the new year for the HD DVD camp, particularly with Warner’s defection to the Blu-ray camp and the subsequent decline in HD DVD player sales. Now, the first large analyst firm is actually predicting the format to die within this year.

According to Gartner’s principal research analyst for Japan, Hiroyuki Shimizu, Toshiba’s desperate price-cutting may prolong HD DVD’s life a little, but the limited line-up of film titles will inflict fatal damage on the format, which now counts Paramount and Universal as the only studios exclusively backing it.

But Gartner’s prediction isn't the only bit of bad news rolling in for the HD DVD camp today. British store chain Woolworths just revealed that it will switch exclusively to selling Blu-ray for its movie discs, becoming the first large-scale retailer to drop HD DVD entirely from its 820 stores. The decision came after Blu-ray titles outsold HD DVD by a factor of ten to one during the holiday shopping season. Things are definitely looking bleak for HD DVD.