Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gartner Believes Price Cuts Will Not Popularize HD DVD

Even though Toshiba and its partners have sold about a million of HD DVD players in the USA alone and attach rates of those players are quite high, an analyst from Gartner research firm said that HD DVD has less than a year left and Blu-ray disc (BD) have won the war of new-generation video disc formats.

“Gartner believes that Toshiba’s price-cutting may prolong HD DVD’s life a little, but the limited line-up of film titles will inflict fatal damage on the format. Gartner expects that, by the end of 2008, Blu-ray will be the winning format in the consumer market, and the war will be over,” wrote analyst Hiroyuki Shimizu in Gartner's Semiconductor DQ Monday Report.

Many observers agree with Mr. Shimizu after Time Warner’s owned studios decided to support Blu-ray disc format exclusively and cease to release movies on HD DVD media starting from mid-2008. Shortly after the announcement of Time Warner, Toshiba slashed prices on HD DVD players to make them more appealing for consumers.

But while Blu-ray can enjoy generally good positions on the market this time, a lot of analysts are sure that in future there will be hybrid players and drives that will be compatible with both BD and HD DVD along with natural support for CD and various DVD specifications. Back in the days not all DVD devices were compatible with various versions of the standard, such as DVD-, DVD+, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and so on, but nowadays all the specs are supported by popular drives. Given that there are still loads of HD DVD movies on the market and many already acquired by early adopters, later on such people will be primarily interested in unified devices, which means that manufacturers will have to follow them.

While both Blu-ray disc (BD) and HD DVD offer a lot of storage space for additional content, only HD DVD offered a comprehensible amount of additional interactive and non-interactive features until recent launch of Blu-ray disc players and movies featuring profile 1.1 spec that supports picture-in-picture function. The latter allows to watch a movie while simultaneously listen to director’s comments or the way the particular scene was filmed. Nevertheless, even with PiP Blu-ray could not offer the same functionality as some HD DVDs due to the lack of some other additional features.

The BD Live is projected to close the gap with HD DVD by offering Internet connectivity to allow downloading of additional content as well as Java-based games in addition to some other Java-based features that content providers may enable. Unfortunately for owners of first-generation the Blu-ray disc players, the vast majority of such devices may not be firmware upgradeable to Blu-ray profiles 1.1 and 2.0 due to lack of Internet connectivity as well as enough processing power, which means that early adopters of Blu-ray will have to get new players to take advantage of additional features that the forthcoming discs will have.

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