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BD certain to dominate as format of next-generation DVD. But maybe short-lived

1, 28. 2008

   Of the two new formats vying to be used for the next-generation DVD, Blu-ray disc (BD) is becoming likely to win the battle as major U.S. movie companies have shown their stance one after another toward shunning HD DVD. Opinions are heard, however, that it might not be enough for the format to remain only on the network and whether or not it will be necessary to store on local discs. The possible "victory" of BD may thus be only short-lived.

Is Apple the winner in the next-generation DVD?

Has Blu-ray disc won a true victory?
Has Blu-ray disc won a true victory?

   The U.S. movie company Warner Bros. announced on Jan. 4, 2008 that it will exclusively use BD, developed by Sony-Matsushita Electric Industrial and other companies, in supplying its titles on the next-generation DVD. The company has been supplying DVD in both BD and HD DVD, developed by Toshiba and other companies. Warner Bros. has decided to change the policy, however, in the middle of 2008.

   Leaving from HD DVD by such a big movie company as Warner Bros. sent a big shock wave in the related industry. On Jan. 8, 2008, TIMES reported on the website that 20 companies are considering the possibility of leaving the group for the promotion of HD DVD. The Financial Times of Britain also reported on the same day that another major U.S. movie company, Paramount Pictures, is studying the possibility of switching from HD DVD to BD.

   Which format the movie companies will choose to use to sell their movie titles on the next-generation DVD is a life-or-death matter for the makers of the next-generation DVD players and recorders. The BD camp does not seem to have won a victory as yet in the battle against HD DVD.

   Journalist Sean Captain, touching on the Apple TV that makes it possible to view movies and to link to networks through iTunes, said in a CNN website column that:

All the features offered by Apple TV are better than a BD player that is "just a one trick disc-playing box."

   "I predict that Apple will win this (format) war, too," he said.

   Also, The Wall Street Journal expressed doubt in its Jan. 6 issue that if the DVD with new format is something that will be wanted in the future, and it said the victory won by Sony of the BD camp might be short-lived as it faces the problems of high cost.

   In Japan, BD recorders made by Sony-Matsushita Electric Industrial were sold out at many shops during the 2007 year-end sales season, drawing attention to the expanding market for the next-generation DVD recorders. There is no sign, however, of the HD DVD camp coming up.

From now on, it will be "Net vs Disc" competition

   Sony accounted for 59.6% of the sales share of the next-generation DVD recorder sales for the period between October and December of 2007, according to a survey by the research company BCN on the year-end sales of digital product. Matsushita Electric Industrial accounted for 27.0%, and Sharp 9.6%. Among the companies in the HD DVD camp, in the meantime, Toshiba's sales share was only 3.8%. The BD remained the winner over the HD DVD camp by the score of 96.2% to 3.8%.

   Asked about possible effect on the domestic market of the Warner Bros.'s decision to change over to the BD format, Shigehiro Tanaka, director of BCN, told reporters:

"Whether or not a sufficient amount video titles to supply on DVD can be secured will largely affect the purchase of the next-generation DVD recorders. I think Toshiba will be affected significantly."

   He further said that home appliance makers will shift to the next-generation DVD by the time of the Beijing Olympics. The sales of the next-generation DVD will account for more than 40% of the total DVD HDD recorders by then, he said. But there is no saying about what will happen after the Olympics, he added.

   "There are movements in the United States to store videos on the networks without relying on DVD and other media. This makes it unpredictable if the popularity of the next-generation DVD will be expanded overseas in the future. How the domestic makers explain the merit of storing videos locally will be the key. From now on, it will be a Net vs Disc competition," he said.

   The BD camp has won a victory in the DVD format competition. It is not certain, however, that the next-generation DVD is really needed in the future. It can not definitely be said the BD camp has really won a victory.

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