Blu-ray has been more successful in its first year than DVD was in a similar time scale. Frank Simonis, chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association, says that despite BD sales being way behind DVD, things are going swimmingly.
"Blu-ray has done better than DVD did in its early days," he said in an interview with us today. "And now all the buyers of those beautiful HD-ready flat screens are looking for the true source of HD."
BD shadows DVD success
In the UK there is only limited HD content available, the rest of Europe has no HD transmissions at all. So what to do with those HD-ready TVs? Blu-ray is the ideal source. Both movies and games can be shown on them in the ultimate quality and I think that will excite the consumer."
Of course, you'd expect Simonis to wax lyrical about his own format. But the BDA man was keen to point out the fact that Blu-ray has been more of a hit than DVD was in its early days. And this is despite the fact that it's having to tussle with Toshiba's rival HD DVD format. DVD had no serious competitors at all.
"I think all the ingredients are there. Replication capacity is now gearing up. You will see in the next six months a multiple of new announcements about new players coming out. Hardware prices have already come down dramatically.
"If you compare it with DVD, DVD was launched at $1,000, and it took three years to come down to $299. But right now, in just one year, we are already down to $299 in the US and €399 in Europe. And this trend is set to continue."
At the Blu-ray Disc Association press conference at CES, Danny Kaye, executive vice president of research and technology at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, said that Blu-ray is set to hit the proverbial big time this year.
BD on the way up?
"If we take a look at the historical performance of the home entertainment market - the transition from VHS to DVD and now to Blu-ray - there are some very interesting parallels as we go from one format to another," Kaye said.
"We talk about the inflection point [the point at which a new format actually grabs hold of the marketplace, and consumers embrace it and begin to buy more strongly] and interestingly the inflection point is happening at the same point in time with BD as it did with DVD. As we went from VHS to DVD, it was about after the third or fourth year after the format introduction when suddenly DVD became massive.
"Blu-ray sales are following the exact same pattern. We're at the inflection point now so we predict that things are about to pick up exactly as they did for DVD and actually it's all happening faster for Blu-ray than it did for the last format."
Simonis told us that the BDA and its software and hardware partners are committed to making 2008 "the year of Blu-ray". Blu-ray Disc movies outsold HD DVD movies by two-to-one in the US in 2007 and by three-to-one in Europe.
"There will be a much bigger and more focused push this year than we had last year," said Simonis. "Last year we were in battle mode. This year the goal is how to grab the consumer's heart and to pull them over to the Blu-ray format."