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Blu Christmas coming, format fans forecast

But DVD is very far from defunct

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IFA Christmas is going to be a truly festive season for Blu-ray Disc, the organisation behind the optical disc standard forecast today.

But it's going to be some time before the format ousts DVD in European consumers' affections.

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) based its rosy prediction on numbers put out by local market watcher Futuresource last week. Futuresource, formerly known as Understanding and Solutions, has long been a torch-bearer for BD.

The company reckons some 12m BDs will have been purchased in Europe this year, which sounds a lot but is still only around two per cent of the combined video sales in busy markets like the UK and France.

Look ahead to 2012, and BDs sales will have leapt to 240m a year.

That's very good news for the BD supply chain, for sure, but it's not DVD's death knell.

Futuresource's numbers indicate that none of the major European economies will have seen BD sales surpass DVD sales by that time. Four years on - all presumably resounding to the kerching of sales tills at Christmas as consumers, following the BDA's suggestion, splash out on PS3s... er... Blu-ray players - and the best the format will have done is equal DVD sales in France.

In the UK, DVD will still lead in 2012, 56 per cent to 44 per cent. BD will do better in Germany - it'll take 46 per cent of the market - but less well in Spain and Italy - 43 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively.

And this at a time when the numbers of HD TVs in European homes will be at an all-time high.

The point here is that there's nothing wrong with Blu-ray, simply that it's clearly not winning hearts and minds as well as you might expect from all the consumer electronics industry's 'everything HD' boosterism.

DVDs, which have never been cheaper and will be more so come 2012 - they'll be giving them away by then - are clearly satisfying the vast majority of consumers, despite being standard definition.

And the BDA avoids discussing the notion of downloads, assuming the UK's seemingly creaky broadband infrastrucure will be able to cope with HD file transfers by 2012. It certainly will in the rest of Europe - for many European countries it is already.

There is a role for BD, but the industry's going to have to work harder if it wants the format to be more than the video equivalent of DVD Audio and Super Audio CD - an upgrade the masses don't feel they need.

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