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Retailers Waiting to Make Up Their Minds on Next-Gen Discs

20 Mar, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

At this point a significant percentage of retailers in home video say they lack sufficient information to make a decision on whether or not they're comfortable bringing in the next generation of high definition discs when they arrive on the market.

A survey conducted by Home Media Research shows that 42 percent of responding retailers feel this way. Twenty-four percent say they will not carry either format at launch.

Certainly, the media (including HMR) has been aggressively covering the developments of both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, not just from a technical standpoint, but also from a marketing and software support standpoint. And while a number of retailers feel that a next-gen high definition disc format is a good thing for the market to be pursuing (31 percent of respondents said they'll carry HD-DVD, 27 percent Blu-ray, multiple answers allowed in the survey), many are skeptical of consumers initial confusion to a new format, not to mention worried that two new formats will quash any momentum a new high definition format might be able to build. To help retailers navigate this issue, HMR this week launches a multi-part series that will look at all angles of the next-gen disc issue. And we start with where retailers stand on the issue today. Check out the story on the cover, and look for HMR's Editorial Advisory Board to weigh in on the issue on this web site.

I still hold to the belief that the current DVD platform is still new enough, and good enough, to a significant portion of the U.S. households for some time to come, and that the attraction to any new high def format will be strictly early adopter territory for at the first 12 – 18 months or so. It seems apparent, also, that HDTV and consumer demand for high definition content is still several years off before significant uptake, which lessens the pressure somewhat on the packaged entertainment to respond.

I think that if industry forces cannot push a compromise through, then a dual launch will certainly serve to give consumers time to fiddle around with the two formats, give platform supporters time to market the benefits of their discs to consumers and, eventually, the public will make its decisions and the loser will fade into the background.

While I believe a dual launch is certainly not ideal, I also don't think it's a deathblow to the eventual success of the high definition disc.

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