Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When will the Blu-ray market 'kick into gear?'

When will the Blu-ray market 'kick into gear?'

Although not everyone agrees with the prediction, analysts at ABI Research are now saying that the Blu-ray high definition DVD market won't "kick into gear" for another 12 to 18 months.

Until prices reach the $200 level for full-featured players, people who don't own HDTVs will "certainly favor standard DVD players" over Blu-ray drives, according to a report issued by the industry analyst firm.

Steve Wilson, a principal analyst at ABI, contended that BD player prices are still high and supplies remain limited.

"This is good for the market because most current players do not support all the functions that studios place on the discs. Lacking support for -- or upgradability to -- BD Live or Bonus View (picture in picture), consumers cannot utilize all the available options. Manufacturers would rather sell more fully featured models," according to Wilson.

In contrast, however, an analyst at argues that the Blu-ray industry has already "kicked into gear," with sales up 351% in the first quarter of this year.

"Millions of consumers who were waiting for an end to the format war [between Blu-ray and HD DVD] are now contemplating a Blu-ray player," wrote the TVPredictions analyst, who refers to himself simply as "Swanni."

"Additionally, Blu-ray player prices will likely approach the $200 level this holiday season, which will give the high-def disc format another major sales boost," according to Swanni.

Meanwhile, Best Buy and Circuit City have both just placed older Samsung Blu-ray drives in the clearance bins, to clear the shelves for newer models slated to arrive in June.

Even at $100 discounts, though, prices are still well over $200. At Best Buy, the discounted Samsung 1080p player is now $499.99. And in the sale at Circuit City, the Samsung BDP1400 is now $399.99.

Samsung's forthcoming BDP1500 -- introduced at CES 2008 in January -- will feature both BD Live -- an Internet-based function that supports gaming and other new content -- and convertibility between 720p, 1080i, and 1080p resolution, for users who want to play CDs, standard DVDs, and BDs on the same player.

ABI also predicted that Sony PlayStation 3 players will make up 85% of the installed base of BD players in 2008, and that PS3's lead will continue through 2013, when the installed base of CE- and PC-based BD players will finally start to make up the majority.


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