Study: HD DVD Has Lead in Consumer Support

An independent analysis of online discussions on next generation DVD formats Blu-ray and HD DVD seem to give the early edge to HD DVD. Cited as reasons are a consumer distrust of Sony and displeasure in the company's decision to include it in the PS3.

The study, released by research firm Cymfony late Tuesday, indicates that while discussion on the two formats is pretty evenly split, positive discussion on HD DVD is 46 percent higher than that of Blu-ray. The study researched 18,000 posts from October 1 to November 30, 2006.

Cymfony's research also found 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.

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Overall, nearly 33 percent of all online posts on HD DVD were positive, compared with 53 percent that were neutral, and 14 percent negative. Blu-ray scored a 24 percent positive rating, with 53 percent neutral and 23 percent negative.

Among 2,000 posts randomly selected for more analysis, 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.

The most common reason for the negativity towards Sony's format was what was considered a general dislike, accounting for 24 percent of the selected posts, doubting the company's ability to launch a successful format, and it's image as an arrogant company.

"While the media and manufacturers duke it out over their format choice, our research shows that consumers are turning away from Blu-ray because of Sony's reputation and heavy-handed launch strategy," Cymfony chief strategy and marketing officer Jim Nail said.

Second in the list was negativity surrounding its inclusion in the PS3, at 21 percent. The firm noted that the launch of the console occurred during the period, which generated a large number of posts. Many cited displeasure at being forced to use Blu-ray, whereas Microsoft provided a choice with making the HD DVD disc drive an external option.

"Our research shows there's more going on with consumers: it's not that consumers are waiting for one format to win before they purchase, but they actively doubt Sony's ability to win the battle," Nail said.

He noted at this point that a majority of the discussion was still among early adopters, but with such negativity early on, Sony may run into problems with a mainstream audience. Consumers just don't see a difference, Nail argues.

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