Study Predicts No Winner in High-Def Format Battle


A new study by Screen Digest predicts that neither the HD-DVD or Blu-ray high-definition disc formats will achieve market dominance.

According to the study, which claims to be the first major examination of the contest for high definition format market share, the HD-DVD and Blu-ray (BD) formats will co-exist until affordable dual-format solutions become available. The study also predicts that high definition-enabled gaming hardware, including the PlayStation 3’s internal Blu-ray player and the Xbox 360s’ external HD-DVD drive, will initially form the bulk of high definition disc player sales.

The study predicts that sales of high definition disc-enabled gaming consoles will increase rapidly following their launch later this year, and will initially far exceed sales of stand-alone devices, anticipating sales of 2.8 million HD/BD DVD-enabled gaming consoles for 2006, as opposed to only 430,000 stand-alone players. Sales of enabled gaming devices, the majority of which will likely be PlayStation 3 consoles, are projected to peak in 2009 at around 18 million units.

The study anticipates stand-alone player sales will exceed those of enabled gaming consoles by 2010, at least in the U.S. and Europe. By then, just under 30 million households worldwide should have a stand-alone HD/BD DVD player or recorder.

Screen Digest Chief Analyst Ben Keen noted that other scenarios, including eventual market dominance of one format or lack of widespread consumer adoption for either, should not be ruled out completely. He added, “Overall though, the net result of the format war and the publicity it has generated will be to dampen consumer appetite for the whole high definition disc category.”

Graham Sharpless, author of the report, commented, “The success of DVD was due to a single format that offered better quality and greater convenience than the VHS format that it replaced. This time both formats support similar features. Blu-ray discs offer capacities of up to 50 GB compared with HD DVD’s 30 GB. But Blu-ray is a revolutionary format that is more difficult and expensive to produce than HD DVD discs, which can be produced using modified DVD equipment.”

Only two gaming consoles offering high-definition disc compatibility have been announced. Sony’s PlayStation 3, which includes an internal Blu-ray drive, is expected to launch this holiday season, as is Microsoft’s external HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360. Stand-alone HD-DVD and Blu-ray players from other electronics manufacturers became available earlier this year.

About the author