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HD DVD launched – 70% market share forecast by year end

HD DVD has officially launched in the US, as Toshiba shipped 10,000 of its first HD DVD players to stores across the US, from where they were quickly sold out according to reports. And initial reviews of the products seem to be positive so far.

Although the launch of HD DVD was marked by conflicting announcements and date changes, the format has managed to launch with two studios releasing three movies in the next-generation optical disc format. However it is reported that each title will only have a shipment of 10,000 or less, to coincide with the volume of players shipped.

However, whether the head start on Blu-ray will give HD DVD the advantage in the market is still to be seen.
"A lot is to be said about getting it to market sooner, but it's the question of what you are going to play on it that matters," said Andy Parsons, a spokesman for Blu-ray, noting the majority of Hollywood's major studios have thrown their support behind Blu-ray.

Sony expects to ship its first Blu-ray titles on May 23 with the first Blu-ray player by Samsung Corp. due out in late June, although Parsons said it may be possible to equip a computer with a Pioneer Corp. Blu-ray computer drive before then.

However, the Blu-Ray delays have meant that Toshiba and its HD-DVD standard enjoy, for now, an uncontested market.

Industry-watchers ABI Research, claimed this week HD DVD will have taken almost 70 per cent of the high-definition media market by the end of the year, leaving rival format Blu-ray Disc with a market share of just 30 per cent.

Polarising the issue as a Sony vs Toshiba fight, ABI does note that Sony's Blu-ray player is four months away, while Toshiba's HD-A1 and HD-XA1 HD DVD players are shipping in the US now. It also has a price advantage as Toshiba's players are about half the price of the competing Blu-ray Disc players.

However, with the launch of the Samsung player in June and the PlayStation 3 in November, ABI expects the picture may change in 2007 as these factors could well start reversing the two formats’ relative market positions.

An early market lead is important for HD DVD as content providers will look for one format to establish itself above the other, allowing them to move behind it. A few studios support both formats, but most favour one or the other. Those promoting Blu-ray may be tempted to shift allegiance, or decide to support both formats, if HD DVD builds a clear lead early on.

Story filed 24.04.06

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