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Blu-ray Touts Production Cost Cut

27 May, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Blu-ray Disc replication costs can be lowered to DVD levels, the format's supporters said this week, addressing one of the major criticisms lodged against the high-def format.

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) attributes the cost cuts to technological advances by member companies. Backers of HD DVD have boasted that their rival high-def disc is easier, and cheaper, to replicate than Blu-ray.

With the new advances, the BDA projects initial single-digit euro cents per-disc replication costs. In addition, the BDA said replication times would be about three seconds per disc, while the mastering process is reduced from 11 steps for a conventional DVD to 5 steps for a BD-ROM.

Disc replication companies Technicolor, Cinram International and Sony DADC are expected to have Blu-ray lines up by July, the BDA said.

“[Companies] are bringing their disc production technology out of the lab environment and more toward the mass production environment,” said Mike Mitchell, EVP and GM of Sony DADC, a supporter of Blu-ray. “[They are] putting it in a 24/7 environment that is not run by a bunch of engineers and scientists and [are] starting to kick the tires.”

Blu-ray competitor HD DVD has long touted the physical similarities to DVD as a cost advantage.

“The other camp has been very successful at making manufacturing cost the Gettysburg of a perceived format war,” Mitchell said. “When you look at the economics of any other mass-produced, pre-recorded optical media, the manufacturing cost of goods is insignificant when compared to the entire economic picture, from content holder to consumer.”

Reportedly, both the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps have been negotiating on a compromise to a looming format war. An HD DVD representative was not immediately available to comment on the BDA announcement.

Josh Bernoff, media analyst with Forrester Research, characterized the BDA's manufacturing claims as “angels dancing on the head of a pin” because nothing is yet being manufactured. He said two HD formats coming to market would cause consumers to hang back and do nothing.

“The whole thing is going to fall on its face unless the HD DVD group and Blu-ray group come together and have some type of compromise,” Bernoff said.

He said the BDA announcement is merely part of the continued “jockeying for position” in the compromise negotiations.

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