IFA NEWS: Blu-ray Group gets aggressive

The Blu-ray Disc Association press conference at this year’s show saw a predictably bullish appraisal of the current state of play for the format from all its major supporters in the industry - including two new members.

‘Aggressive’ seemed to be the keyword, as figures were announced showing growth in market share for Blu-ray hardware and software across the globe, even if figures remain relatively minute.

Having sold 1.3m PlayStation3 units in Europe, there were some impressive sales figures when consoles were included – 96 percent of the HD sources sold were Blu-ray decks – but without the PS3 it was closer to 50 percent, with lower-price HD DVD players selling well.

In the US Blu-ray has a 63 percent market share for standalone players, while over 66 percent of HD software sold was from the Blu-ray camp – a total of just over 2 million discs.

The standalone player market has clearly been boosted by the Sony BDP-3000 that was released stateside.

Over in Europe, HD disc sales were said to be 70/30 in Blu-ray’s favour, again attributed in part to the PS3.

And there are plenty of discs to look forward to for the rest of the year. Disney is to release its first ‘Platinum Edition’ disc, Sleeping Beauty, next autumn, while its first BD-Live disc soon, alongside big-hitters Chronicles of Narnia and Finding Nemo.

Also on the horizon is Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer and Die Hard 4.0 from Fox, complete with BD-Java features, and a host of titles including Ocean’s 13 and 300 – the top-selling disc in the US – from Warner Home Video. The latter studio says it'll be releasing more titles in ‘Q4’ as in the rest of the year combined.

Last but not least was news from Sony, who will release the latest Spider-man disc, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and US mini-series The Tudors on Blu-ray.

Meanwhile, the Blu-ray Disc Association proudly announced that Acer and the China Huala Group are the latest manufacturers to join the Blu-ray camp. Eager to soften the blow of losing Paramount movies to the rival HD DVD format, the two manufacturers will look to help strengthen Blu-ray’s world position.

China Huala Group is a major disc manufacturer in China, so will look to increase BD’s impression in the massive Chinese market. While instant questions over piracy issues were dismissed by the BDA, there was also no hint of the Chinese company’s involvement sparking the release of a much cheaper player.

Acer meanwhile joins other IT manufacturers who have become ‘contributing members’ to the Blu-ray cause, namely HP, Dell and Lenovo.

Elsewhere there were other new additions to the Blu-ray family in the form of two HD Blu-ray camcorders from Hitachi, the DZ-BD70A and the DZ-BD7HA.

Technorati Tags: Blu-ray, HD DVD, IFA, Sony