Blu-Ray growing quicker than DVD? Not for long...

In case you didn't believe me when I said the hi-def format war was over, just take a look at Blu-Ray's latest sales figures: two million discs sold i

In case you didn't believe me when I said the hi-def format war was over, just take a look at Blu-Ray's latest sales figures: two million discs sold in Europe, with a million of those sold since November 2007. And that's despite the wallet-sapping price of Blu-Ray discs (£25 a pop? Seriously?).

The corpse Blu-Ray's competitor, HD-DVD, is still twitching - but barely. According to figures from market research firm GfK, 21% of hi-def disc sales in January 2008 were in the HD-DVD format. The rest, of course, were true Blu.

But the Blu-Ray Disc Association couldn't just leave it at that. Its press release suggests that the Blu-Ray format is growing quicker than DVD;

"DVD-Video was first introduced into Western Europe in 1997, and the following year some 230,000 DVD players were installed and 2.0  million discs were sold through. In comparison, Blu-ray Disc made its first tentative launch in Western Europe in 2006, and the following year some 3.2 million PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3) consoles and 34,000 standalone players were installed while 2.3 million Blu-ray Discs sold."

Just 34,000 standalone players sold in Europe in a year? Thank the lord for PS3!

Well, in keeping with the name of this blog, let me make a prediction for the future: Blu-Ray will be a success, but it won't achieve the same mass market penetration as DVD.

Why? Because the leap from tape to DVD was huge. VHS was an dog of a format, with poor sound, muddy colours, and the pain of rewinding and fast forwarding. So DVD was a revelation - even if you were only watching a portable TV you could still tell the difference. What's more, DVDs offered extra features like multiple languages, commentaries and deleted scenes.

Blu-Ray takes video and audio quality to another level still - but you'll need a big TV and an impressive sound system to really make the most of the it. With cheap upscaling DVD players and bargain bins stuffed with classic DVDs for under a fiver, many households simply won't be able to justify an upgrade. Especially as the likes of Apple, Microsoft and BT will soon be delivering hi-def movie rentals over the internet for a few quid.

Gadget lovers and connoisseurs will still see the merits of Blu-Ray, of course. But if the BDA is serious about replacing DVD, it needs to slash price and unleash a deluge of discs. I say Blu-Ray won't be bigger than DVD. Prove me wrong!

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