Sales boom tipped now that Blu-ray has won DVD war

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2008, 12:00am

Sony's win will boost purchases of discs, players and TVs

The number of high-definition television viewers in Hong Kong is expected to swell this year, as the end of the industry's next-generation DVD format war spurs consumers to adopt HDTV at home.

Experts forecast local demand for Blu-ray DVD players and video titles to pick up swiftly over the next 12 months, growing with the adoption of HDTV units and set-top boxes geared for high-definition cable and terrestrial digital TV broadcasts.

Toshiba Corp, the leading proponent of the HD DVD format, yesterday conceded defeat to the Sony-led Blu-ray high-definition DVD format by announcing its withdrawal from the high-definition DVD business.

'This is a good thing for consumers, many of whom have held back on adopting HDTV in their homes,' said Emily Butt, managing director for Hong Kong and Singapore at music and video retail chain HMV.

Thomas Pang Hin-cheung, product marketing manager at Samsung Electronics, said the local market had suddenly become ideal for a growing HDTV viewership.

'Terrestrial digital TV and cable broadcasts have just started; there is a wide selection of HD-ready and full-HD television products in stores; and now we have one universally recognised format for high-definition DVD players and recorders,' Mr Pang said. 'Consumers have a greater opportunity this year to understand and appreciate HDTV technology, and not get confused by different formats.'

Also, a range of products - from Blu-ray players and high-definition video cameras to HDTV monitors (liquid crystal display and plasma panel) - are expected to be released this year by all major consumer electronics brands.

'The sales of Blu-ray [players] are linked to HD flat-panel TVs, first and foremost. Certainly those consumers who have bought an HD TV may now consider buying a Blu-ray player,' said Hiroyuki Shimizu, principal analyst at research firm Gartner.

Ms Butt said local demand for Blu-ray titles would surely rise when there was adequate supply. HMV in Hong Kong has about 250 Blu-ray movie titles, priced HK$215 to HK$300 each, and 200 HD DVD movie titles. Most of its video titles remain in the standard DVD format.

'We used to sell more HD DVD titles, but that changed when the (Sony) PlayStation 3 (PS3) came out,' Ms Butt said.

Michael Yap, a shop manager of retailer Citicall, said the defeat of Toshiba in the war was foreseeable in the contrast in sales. 'In the past two months the sales ratio was six to one between Blu-ray and HD DVD players. Hong Kong people in general also prefer Sony products,' he said.

Leung Ding-kau, chairman of the Chamber of Hong Kong Computer Industry, said he expected the sales in the next-generation DVD market to flourish by the end of this year.