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HD DVD to outsell Blu-ray 2.5:1 in 2006 - report

But 2007 is another matter

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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. So claimed market watcher ABI Research this week, though it warned the picture may change in 2007.

ABI paints the arena as a Sony vs Toshiba fight, noting 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. Samsung's player is supposedly just two months away, so Toshiba's lead isn't as long as ABI suggests, but it's a good one nonetheless.

It also has the price advantage - Toshiba's machines are about half the price of the competing Blu-ray Disc players - and that's what will propel HD DVD to market domination this year, ABI reckons.

How long it retains the lead remains to be seen. The PlayStation 3, due in November, could well start reversing the two format's relative market positions. Possibly not in the immediate term - most early buyers will be focused on games - but certainly as 2007 rolls by.

But the early market lead is important for HD DVD. 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 will be tempted to shift allegiance - or at the very least support both formats - if HD DVD builds a clear lead early on. ®

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