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Analyst: Format Winner to Emerge After Christmas

31 Jul, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Despite the availability of two Toshiba HD DVD players and more than 20 movies, analyst David Bunzel, managing director of Santa Clara Consulting Group, says the dominant next-generation packaged-media format won't be decided until after the winter holidays.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based research firm earlier this month issued a report stating sales of blue laser players, game consoles, PC drives, and related media was expected to top $2 billion this year and $28 billion by 2010.

Bunzel said the more than 100 companies and related content providers associated with Blu-ray have product releases planned in the fourth quarter based in large part on the November launch of Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 video game console with a Blu-ray drive.

“[Sony] should have a decent ramp up of product at that time,” said Bunzel. “It is not going to be what they had hoped for if they would have been able to release in the summer but there will be enough in the pipeline to have a pretty good Christmas run.”

The analyst believes Toshiba's release of HD DVD players did little more than satiate immediate public relations and media concerns. A winner will emerge when consumers have the ability evaluate both formats side-by-side and can determine what the price points and see what the movie offerings are how the reviews on the technology pan out.

“Now, it is nothing more than bragging rights,” Bunzel said.

He said early adopters who have purchased HD DVD would also purchase Blu-ray. The cost of entry at $499 for the Toshiba AX-1 does not preclude them from buying a second device. The people buying HD DVD are the ones who want the latest, greatest and newest.

“I think Blu-ray is a given by virtue of the PS3,” Bunzel said. “There is an advantage to BD considering the number of companies releasing movies on Blu-ray and HD DVD. Only Universal [Studios Home Entertainment] is releasing titles only on HD DVD. I don't know if that is going to remain a long-term strategy.”

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