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Universal players fast-tracks end to format war, says ABI

Posted: 25 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ABI Research? Samsung? LG Electronics? Blu-ray? HD DVD?

Universal players for HD DVD and Blu-ray discs will provide an exit strategy from the 'war of the high-definition (HD) DVD formats,' according to ABI Research. The research firm cited the launch of LG Electronics' Super Multi Blue Player as a precedent move that the rest of the industry will follow. Such universal players will become the norm, said ABI Research, and will benefit confused consumers who are unwilling to commit to one DVD camp.

"We believe that universal players will come to dominate the market," said Steve Wilson, principal analyst of consumer electronics, ABI Research. Samsung set to release its own universal player soon, and others, including large CE vendors, may follow suit before long, said the market research firm.

Observers expect that demands for universal players will lead to price hikes for the product. At present, LG's universal player is initially priced at $1,200. Nonetheless, Wilson expects these prices to drop dramatically as new manufacturers will enter the segment. "That $1,200 price would seem to be more about matching Blu-ray player prices than about reflecting the cost of producing a universal player. There's no reason universal players should cost significantly more than HD DVD or Blu-ray players," he said.

Looking forward, Wilson cautioned that market growth will remain slow until prices fall. "The universal player market is still in its nascent stages, and developers are trying to maximize their revenues. The BOM price will start to fall once fully integrated chipsets reach the market, and there will be downward pressure on prices for players of all types." ABI Research believes that prices will have to drop below $200 before true mass adoption takes off. "That should happen by 2009," Wilson predicted.

For 2007, ABI Research projects sales of 2.4 million players, which will increase to 55 million in 2011.

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