IFA 2007: Liveblogging the Bluray Conference

Blu-ray, CES 2007, Gadget Shows

Well, Bluray have got their first, by ensuring their press conference is the day before HD-DVDs, and therefore they’re first to declare that they are winning the format war. But don’t worry, no doubt you’ll hear something to the contrary tomorrow.

This conference is a chance for spokespeople from the major studios involved to have their say about the format, as well as some other industry figures. First up: David Walstra from Sony Home Entertainment.

He’s got some impressive figures. Apparently, in 2011 it’s expected that whilst 60% of homes will have an HD- ready TV, only 20% will receive HD broadcasts. So, in order for that missing 40% to take advantage, they’re going to have to invest in some discs. But which ones?

In Western Europe currently, apparently 94% of high def players are Bluray, if you include PS3s. This is likely to increase as Sony’s recently announced Play TV makes the PS3 more attractive.

We’ve just been told that Hitachi are going to be making a Very Important Announcement in relation to Bluray at their press conference tomorrow, but we’re not allowed to know what it is – tease. Unfortunately for them, details were leaked last week, and we’re all pretty sure they’ll be announcing a Bluray camcorder available in Europe.

Another big announcement is that as well as HP, Dell and Lenovo all supporting Bluray, Acer will now also be, meaning the top 4 laptop manufacturers are all committed to the format.

More news: China’s Huahu Group are also becoming a BDA member. And if you’ve got no idea who they are, you’re not alone. Suffice to say, they’re the biggest audio and video device and content manufacturers in China, so them joining is going to make a huge difference to the bottom line.

In terms of where Bluray is now, we’re told that there have been 2 million discs sold so far. Interestingly, whilst it took 10 months to reach 1 million, it only took 3 months to hit the 2 million mark.

More stats: Bluray discs are outselling HD-DVD 3:1 in Western Europe at the moment, since the launch of the PS3.

There have been a load of European independent film studios signed up – if you’re an educated film buff that probably means load to you, but all I recognized was Pathe and Studio Canal. Still, good news.

The Disney exec has come on, and started with the wonderful quote “We are aggressively optimistic”. I spend a moment thinking just what that means.

Disney sees format benchmarks in terms of releasing their cartoons. The first cartoon to be released on VHS was Pinnocho, and the first on DVD was Snow White. In Autumn 2008 Sleeping Beauty will be launched as a Platinum Edition, which means heaps and heaps of lovely extras.

Warner Home Video announce that they’re going to launch Oceans 11,12 and 13 simultaneously, as well as Harry Potter 1-5 so that customers can watch the whole lot togther. Or more accurately, parents can go broke trying to please their demanding offspring.

Right. There were more spokespeople, but I’m saving just the tasty morsels for you. We sat through a lot of show reels of various studios films (Casino Royale, Happy Feet, Ratatouille??) and quite frankly I don’t think that getting on stage and announcing your show reel counts as ‘giving a presentation’ but who am I to argue.

One interesting thing came up in the Q&A though. When Pocket Lint asked each studio exec if they’d received a sweetener, in light of the recent speculation about certain studios dropping Bluray for HD-DVD, all but one went on record as saying that no, they had no sweetener. The one that wouldn’t, preferring a ‘no comment’? Stephen Foulser from Disney. Hmmm.

Susi Weaser
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