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Home arrow Video Savant arrow Is 29 Million Blu-ray Players by End-2008 Good News?
Is 29 Million Blu-ray Players by End-2008 Good News? Print
Written by Video Savant   
Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The web is abuzz today with news of a Strategy Analytics research report that predicts there will be more than 29 million Blu-ray players in consumer hands by the end of this year.

That sounds like it should be good news for anyone with a stake in the success of the Blu-ray format. But the fact is, the very report that paints such a rosy future for Blu-ray raises some serious concerns about that seemingly guaranteed success. I'll explain below why I think the Blu-ray glass is half empty, but first here's the key predictions from the Business Wire press release:

The Blu-ray Disc victory in its recent format war with HD-DVD will propel this technology into 29.4 million homes worldwide by the end of 2008, according to the latest research published by the Strategy Analytics Connected Home Devices service...

...[The] report predicts that global sales of Blu-ray devices will reach 18.8 million units in 2008, including 4 million stand-alone players, 13 million consoles and nearly 2 million PCs. By 2012, annual sales of all BD devices will reach 57.4 million units. The largest market will be in Europe, with 26.4 million, followed by the US (22.6 million) and Japan (8.4 million).

The elephant in the room here is the lopsided contribution that PlayStation3 game consoles are expected to continue to make to overall Blu-ray sales in 2008 -- approximately 7 out of every 10 new "Blu-ray players" to be sold in 2008 year are expected to be disguised as PlayStation 3 gaming consoles.

Make no mistake -- I really admire the PS3 "Trojan Horse" strategy and its critical role in forcing Toshiba and HD DVD off the battlefield. But that strategy doesn't make the cut as an end game. After all, the real value of the mythical Trojan Horse wasn't the deadly firepower of those hidden inside -- it was their ability to quietly open the fortress gates from within to allow entry to a larger invading force.

Taking this Illiad-inspired metaphor to the next step, you might say that Sony is having a really tough time on the enlistment front.

But just as unsettling is the idea that PCs with BD drives, a relatively new product category, will account for 2 million sales units, while sales of traditional, single-purpose dics players with Blu-ray technology will amount to a measly 4 million sales units.

When you add it all up, nearly 80% of 2008 "Blu-ray" sales are actually products that are first and foremost something other than a device designed to watch a Blu-ray movie. Strategy Analytics actually predicts that standalone Blu-ray players will be the main contributor for Blu-ray sales from 2009 onward, but no further details are available in the press release and the full text of the research report is only available by subscription.

It hard to see what's going to propel this fundamental change in fortunes for Blu-ray, seemingly overnight. Hopefully Strategy Analytics or Sony have the magic formula in hand.

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