24 Million Blu-ray Players

The market-tracking firm Futuresource is bullish on Blu-ray. The company forecasts that 24 million players will be sold in 2010, just in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. And this does not include the Sony PlayStation 3 (which includes a Blu-ray player). The company predicts that 11 million of these units — nearly half of the total — will be sold in the fourth quarter alone. They predict an 80% growth in unit sales over last year.

Certainly the falling prices for Blu-ray players are helping fuel the growth in sales. The players still cost many times as much as an equivalent-quality DVD player, but in terms of absolute dollars, the difference is shrinking to $100 or $150 in many cases, which is a small enough differential that many consumers can accept. Also, the recovering economy shows signs that some consumers feel comfortable about spending again, which could translate into stronger holiday sales figures than last year.

While online sources of streaming movie and television content are certainly making an impact on the sales and rental of optical discs, these sources do not yet have broad support for high definition versions of the content. At the moment, the Blu-ray discs remain one of the best options for getting the best viewing experience for HD content.

The future for Blu-ray is a little cloudier, but it is possible that its ability to handle 3D content may extend its life and help sales to continue to grow. There are still a lot of people out there who are perfectly satisfied with their standard definition DVDs when viewed on an HDTV, however, which may put an upper limit on just how far Blu-ray can expand in the market.