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Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Demand For Blu-ray Discs, Drives to Grow in 2009

The Taiwanese optical storage industry expects a significant growth in the demand of both Blu-ray drives and discs next year.

The first Blu-ray recorders for PCs were shipped more than two years ago but their retail price was too high to become mainstream, even among A/V professionals. Both components and licencing fees for the Blu-ray devices have remained high during these years, directly affecting their retail price.

Blu-ray movies are currently widely available worldwide. So the idea of promoting the Blu-ray hardware for PC as a Blu-ray player is promising. In the meantime, the latest graphics cards, chipsets PC monitors and operating systems support the HDCP content protection schemes offering a protected path for the video and audio of the Blu-ray movies before the content reach your display and speakers. With these protection requirements fulfilled, the Blu-ray drives could be used as Blu-ray players, which cost less than a BD recorder after all. Optical disc drive makers such as Optiarc, LiteOn IT and Pioneer last year released their first BD-ROM and BD combo drives, capable of reproducing BD movies while maintaining their DVD-ROM/CD-ROM functions. These drives cost around $150~200.

According to LiteOn IT's statistics, global volumes of BD-ROM drives, BD Combo drives and BD burners together increased from 700,000 units in 2007 to 1.7 million units in the first half of 2008. Blu-ray Disc Combo drives will be the mainstream PC-use BD drive format in 2009 and BD burners will become the mainstream format in 2011, the Taiwanese company was quoted to say, according to the publication. LiteOn IT also estimates that OEM quotes for BD Combo drives will remain at the range of $100-200 in 2009, while the BD burners are forecast to drop to US$50-100 in 2011.

Another Taiwan-based maker of Blu-ray discs is also optimistic for the demand for Blu-ray recordable discs (BD-R). Ritek, one of the world's leading optical disc makers, believe that BD-R discs will reach a crucial market size of 20 million units in 2009 that will give the format momentum for sharp growth thereafter. Ritek noted that it took five to six years from launch for CD-R and DVD-R/+R to reach full market penetration. BD-R discs are expected to reach a critical mass, which will spur economies of scale next year, the maker commented.

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