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Thursday, December 7, 2006
Study: Consumers Prefer HD DVD Over Blu-Ray

An analysis of online discussions on next generation DVD formats HD DVD and Blu-Ray gives the early edge to HD DVD. Cited as reasons are the lack of consumer trust in Sony, as well as gamer displeasure with selling Blu-ray in association with PlayStation 3.

Cymfony, a market influence analytics company, issued a Consumer Opinion and Trends report, "A Blue Christmas for Blu-ray," examining consumer market perception of next-generation high-definition video platforms HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

According to the study, positive discussions about HD DVD are 46% higher than Blu-ray, with over twice as many post authors stating being "impressed with HD DVD" versus "impressed with Blu-ray". Negative Blu-ray conversation indicates lack of consumer trust in Sony, as well as gamer displeasure with selling Blu-ray in association with PlayStation 3, according to the research.

The study researched 17,664 posts from blogs, discussion boards and other social media sites, from October 1 to November 23, 2006. According to the results, the discussion was evenly divided between HD DVD and Blu-ray, while the individual products using these platforms were rarely discussed. Early adopter sources drove the majority of conversation.

Cymfony's research found that consumers debate formats, not specific models. Overall discussion was balanced between HD DVD and Blu-ray during this period, though HD DVD conversation narrowly edged out Blu-ray.

Consumers discussed specific models far less, with only 1,200 posts referencing one of the 3 Blu-ray players or 9 HD DVD players currently on the market.

In addition, the study claims that early adopters drive current discussion. Posts about these video formats were found on 323 discussion boards, blogs, consumer review, and other social media sites. Almost 60% of the conversation occurred on only 44 sites. These sites had a clear focus videophiles and gamers. The first were those focused on creating total video experiences in their homes through the use of home theater systems, high definition, e.t.c., while gamers were identified as those focused on discussion of the benefits/disadvantages of the various gaming consoles and their respective games, as well as the associated equipment needed to fully enjoy the experience (such as HDTVs).

Cymfony's research also found that a few were interested in talking about higher storage capacities and advanced interactivity, two points where Blu-ray seems to have the edge over its rival.

Among 2,000 posts randomly selected by Cymfony, HD DVD has the edge among these consumers, with a greater percentage of positive posts and a smaller percentage of negative posts than Bluray. The company found 2.5 times more posts being impressed with HD DVD than Blu-ray, and 70 percent more posts discussing the advantages of the format over those doing the same for Blu-ray.

Mainstream media focus on the higher cost of Blu-ray and the "format war" as reasons consumers may be slow to embrace high definition video. These aren?t the biggest reasons currently discussed in social media.

Post authors express a "general dislike" for the format, often based on doubt regarding Sony?s credibility as a technology innovator and ability to succeed with new platforms.

Many posters noted other failed Sony platforms, including Betamax and MiniDisc, and felt that Blu-ray will follow the path of these other Sony failures.

Additionally, many of the post authors felt Sony is an arrogant company.

These issues also occur in negative comments about Sony including Blu-ray in the PS3 game console. The PS3 launched during the study period, stimulating a significant amount of conversation.

Sony?s plan to jumpstart Blu-ray adoption by building it into PS3 is rejected by a significant segment of this audience. Authors disparage Sony?s decision to build the Blu-ray player into PS3 and praise Microsoft for offering the HD DVD player as an option to Xbox 360.

Backward compatibility with older HDTVs is also expected to be a problem for PS3 users, and has many worried that all the high-definition video won?t be viewable on TVs with less than a 1080p resolution. Xbox 360 was praised for its ability to display in lower resolution.

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