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IFA 2008: Blu-ray Association Press Conference

4. Gordon Ho of Walt Disney Studios steps up to reaffirm the company will be releasing all new titles on Blu-ray and will also significantly expand its restored and remastered classics with the likes of Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 being added. These will be sold under a new ‘Platinum Blu’ brand and will feature new BD Live interactive content so you can get close up and personal to Aerial or Sleepy (depending on your preference).

We get a clip of a completely overhauled Sleeping Beauty in 1080p with 7.1 audio and indeed it is impressive. BD Live here includes a children’s guessing game which actually works!

5. Jim Bottoms, FutureSource Consulting rounds things off by looking at the future of Blu-ray. Blu-ray ownership is anticipated to virtually double between 2009 and 2011, driven by ongoing price reductions. The US will hit 45 million disc sales in 2008 alone, but it does stand a good 12 months ahead of the rest of the world (not surprising given the near 100 per cent the price premiums other countries have had to put up with until now).

As for Western Europe, we’re looking at almost three quarters of all homes have HD ready TVs by 2012 and ironically – given the relative lack of HD content – it is expected many will have upgraded their HDTVs at least once (screen size being the primary motivator) before they purchase regular HD content. In hardware ownership we should virtually catch the US by 2012 but will still have less than half HD content available that Americans enjoy.

In sum, the Blu-ray drive will be to push it from a niche, appealing product into a defacto home standard but retailers (not so much those online) and broadcasters are currently lagging significantly behind hardware manufacturers and indeed – based on HDTV sales – customer demand.

In fairness, while I even the BD Association accepts HD video on demand will be the long term future of home entertainment, the Blu-ray disc should have a significant lifespan given the broadband and technology limitations which currently restrict the vast majority of customers entering the VoD market.

Looks like it’s time for late adopters to bite the bullet and hop aboard…


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