Blu-ray faces a solid five years of growth thanks to 3D, says research

Blu-ray player sales for the full year 2010 will total 24 million, well over double the total sales of 2009, Futuresource Consulting said in its annual Blu-ray and DVD Hardware Performance report today, and the growth is only expected to continue.

These figures suggest that Blu-ray still has a solid footing, despite the growing chorus of dissenters who think that Blu-ray has no future. In an interview last week, Microsoft UK executive Stephen McGill said, "Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming, so we offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"

Blu-ray's sustainability isn't about being a high definition format any more, Futuresource says. But instead, it's about being a vehicle for 3D content in the home. Because of the advent of 3D technologies, Futuresource is predicting five years of growth for Blu-ray.

"Sales of HD-capable and 3D-capable TVs, coupled with dramatic reductions in BD player prices are continuing to fuel interest," Jack Wetherill, Research Consultant at Futuresource said today. "Add to that the burgeoning 3D Blu-ray market segment, and we'll see the format continue to gather momentum in all major markets across the globe."

Futuresource estimates at least 10% of all Blu-ray players shipping this year are 3D-capable, and next year, that total will rise to 25%. By 2014, the research company estimates 40% of homes in the US, Western Europe, and Japan will have a 3D Blu-ray player, recorder or home theater.

Interestingly, Futuresource does not even tally the PlayStation 3, which is not only the most prominent Blu-ray player, but also the only vehicle for 3D gaming currently available to consumers. 3D Gaming, according to the Consumer Electronics Association is a cornerstone to 3D home adoption, potentially more important than 3D broadcast television. In a survey released in March, the CEA found consumers were actually more likely to use a 3D TV for playing games than for watching 3D TV shows.

In June, Sony released a firmware upgrade to its PlayStation 3 console that added support for stereoscopic gaming. At E3 2010, the company listed more than 15 games that will be released in 3D next year.

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