Quick Hits On Blu-ray, Portables Dominating Audio Market

PS3 Will Be Priced To Sell Blu-ray

If the HD DVD camp is thinking it will win the format war on the sheer strength of flooding the market with cheap players from China (see UAV's previous news story ), it had better think again. In a November interview with the Hollywood Reporter Sony CEO Howard Stringer referred to PlayStation 3 as nothing short of a "subsidized Blu-ray player" that could be priced at $300 or $400 and sell as many as 20 million units in 2006.

Stringer went on, offering what could be considered a glimpse into the powerful pitch that Sony made to sway studios formerly in the HD DVD camp exclusively, such as Warner and Paramount, to Blu-ray: "Sony will be selling them (PS3 game consoles) at a loss the first six months to a year just to get Blu-ray players out in the market. So studios realize they need to have their content on it."

In addition to owning the Columbia TriStar movie studio and MGM's library, Sony's wide array of high definition digital technologies puts the company in a unique position to rebound financially in the digital future. New features films will undoubtedly be shot as Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was- on Sony high definition digital video cameras. Sony is already testing 4K resolution (4096x2160 for those keeping score at home) digital cinema projectors for theatrical presentations, and envisioning movies playing in high definition on Blu-ray Disc at home and shown on SXRD-based 1080p digital displays.

Referring to the marriage of these technologies, Stringer told the Hollywood Reporter that Sony is creating a "high definition value chain that starts with cameras and goes through projectors and television sets and ends up with PS3. You can see an HD necklace with all the pearls connected."

Audio Industry Going Mobile

According to statistics compiled by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), sales of portable audio devices, driven by Apple's seemingly ubiquitous iPod, this year will exceed that of home audio for the first time ever, and might outsell the home audio and car audio markets combined!

Although boomboxes and other portable categories were down, MP3 rode to the rescue showing a (gulp) 255 percent increase in factory-level portable sales through August. Through August total factory-level MP3 portable sales alone were tallied at a robust $1.98 billion. Year-to-date sales figures for home audio receded 29.8 percent to $1.25 billion. As a whole, year-to-date portable audio sales are a remarkable $2.58 billion.

While the strength of the iPod revolution is certainly a huge factor here, it must also be noted that home audio has pretty much tanked this year. Year-to-date component and system sales are both off by around 30 percent, and aftermarket car audio is also down so far this year.

You have to figure there will be a lot of iPod and iPod accessories stuffed into stockings this holiday season, so look for the current gaps to widen as the year closes out. This underscores how badly the CE industry as a whole needs a next generation high-def disc format to succeed. Both formats will carry higher quality audio and new codecs from Dolby and DTS that consumers will want to experience and will need new equipment to do so.