Goodbye CD, hello Blu-ray Disc?

You can do a lot with statistics, but some fairly convincing market research suggests Blu-ray Disc players are selling faster than DVD machines did in the early days of that format, and predicting some 45m BD players will be in use in Europe by 2011.

After a slow start in the first year of its availability, with just 1000 players sold in Europe in 2006 (against around 3000 DVD players in 1997), Blu-ray Disc take-up is accelerating ahead of DVD, with 10m players expected to be in use by the end of this year, according to research company Futuresource Consulting. By DVD year 3, 1999, there were just 1.58m players in use.

By the time DVD had been on sale for six years, there were 37m players in European homes, the research shows, whereas the installed base for BD machines is expected to be 45.42m by 2011.

All of that will come as some relief to those who'd been holding their collective breath once the Blu-ray Disc/HD-DVD 'format war' was resolved in favour of BD, and who'd been worrying that the slow sales to date hadn't been about format confusion, but the result of customer disinterest in HD disc formats.

Or, more to the point, mainstream customer satisfaction with the quality already available on DVD.

If Blu-ray Disc doesn't fly now that the HD-DVD rival has been seen off, then the proponents of BD will have a severe problem on their hands.

However, there is one shudder-inducing comment in the report, at least for those of us who still value musical ability in our systems, and it comes from the company's much-quoted MD of Corporate Development. Jim Bottoms.

"Longer term, as player prices continue to fall, title availability grows and awareness increases, BD players will become the product of choice – given the fact that they also play DVD and CD media," he says.

And here comes the killer: "There will come a time when the branded suppliers focus on this higher capacity drive, mirroring the trend we saw with DVD players replacing CD decks."

Do you want to tell him, or shall I?

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.