Blu-ray says it will win against any format

Consumers wanting to take home this year’s best picture, be it Babel or The Departed, have the choice of DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. According to Frank Simonis, European chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association, consumers three years from now will only look to Blu-ray.

Reuters quoted Simonis during the CeBIT technology trade show in Germany as saying, “Within three years it will just be Blu-ray.”

This isn’t the first bold statement made by members of the Blu-ray Association. During this year’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, the Blu-ray Association announced itself as the winner of the HD format war, claiming that it had bested the competing format of HD DVD.

While analysts label the Blu-ray Association’s announcement at CES as premature, the Blu-ray Disc format has recently taken the HD movie market lead away from HD DVD. Blu-ray movie sales more than doubled those of HD DVD during early 2007, a trend that continued through February. Total sales of Blu-ray movies also recently surpassed HD DVD, although the HD-race still remains a close one.

Simonis’ statement could come from optimism for the upcoming European PlayStation 3 launch on March 23. Sony’s new console is given much credit to Blu-ray’s recent pull ahead against HD DVD, as the PlayStation 3, although a games machine at heart, is not only an excellent Blu-ray movie player, but also the cheapest one on the market.

Even if Blu-ray manages to emerge victorious in the high-definition war, it seems like wishful thinking of Simonis’ part to believe that DVD could be that quickly ousted. According to figures from analyst firm In-Stat, the worldwide DVD player installed base in 2005 consisted of 140.8 million machines. In comparison, there are less than 2 million Blu-ray players in homes today, with the vast majority of those machines being PlayStation 3 consoles.

Blu-ray gaining home entertainment majority in three years would also mean another thing: near full-market penetration of HDTV by 2010. Analysts at Leichtman Research Group Inc. and Kagan Research LLC, however, project that that only 55 percent of U.S. households will have at least one HD-capable set by 2010.

At this point, selling more than 140 million Blu-ray players, ridding the retail space of DVD movies and putting an HDTV in every home within three years sounds like an impossible feat.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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