Blu-ray software could hit $1 bil in '08


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LAS VEGAS -- Blu-ray Disc software sales could hit $1 billion this year, according to proprietary research from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The studio's Danny Kaye said the projection is based on current sales trends continuing for both set-top Blu-ray Disc players and the Blu-ray-equipped PlayStation 3 game console. Should those trends continue, he said, the number of Blu-ray Disc playback devices in U.S. homes could be at 10 million by the end of 2008.

"It should be a year of very strong, explosive growth," Kaye said, noting that the Blu-ray Disc business should hit its "inflection point," where dramatic growth starts to occur, sometime in the middle of this year.

Fueling that growth will be heavier software release slates from all the Blu-ray studios and a redirected ad campaign for the PlayStation 3 positioning the video game console as a movie-viewing device as well, said David Bishop, worldwide president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Also high on the agenda: maximizing Blu-ray's potential for interactivity through picture-in-picture, Internet connectivity and other technological advances only now coming to market on both the software and the hardware end.

Speaking at a Blu-ray Disc event Monday night at the Consumer Electronics Show here, Kaye and Bishop were joined by three other presidents of Blu-ray-only studios, a group that now includes Ron Sanders, president of Warner Home Video, which on Friday announced it was ditching HD DVD and come May release its next-generation titles exclusively on the Blu-ray format.

The presidents were unanimous in predicting a swift end to the format war and said it is incumbent for them to refocus their energy on educating consumers about high-def media.

Speakers at the Blu-ray event also said that though Blu-ray awareness among consumers was 26% at the end of 2006, it's now at 80%.

In response to a question from a member of the audience about whether Warner had been paid by Blu-ray to drop its support for HD DVD, Sanders chuckled and said, "I wish."

"Any payment would just be a drop compared to getting it wrong in the consumer marketplace," Sanders said.