Comment: "Small" industry news could have impact in format war

It's been described as a "key milestone" in the Blu-ray Disc's strategic roadmap. Recent news that Infodisc has come online as Europe's first independent Blu-ray disc manufacturer may be shrugged off as dull industry blurb by those not realising the implications of this development.

It is in fact very significant, and in time, will have an effect on the consumer, as well as possibly the entire format war on our continent. This news means that the Blu-ray disc market in Europe has been opened up to the independent sector - as all other disc producers prior to this were owned by, or tied into, the big movie studios.

Just as recent news from Japan reporting a relaxing of the "rules" about adult content for Blu-ray was seen to be a major marker in the Far East fight for Blu-ray dominance, this could likely be seen as the same for the HD platform in Europe.

It's an old, and possibly tired argument, that porn went a long way to help the VHS format in the previous home cinema format war, but giving Blu-ray that blue edge in Europe could ultimately impact numbers.

The HD DVD Promotional Group has always highlighted the positive figures regarding independent film studios in Europe producing titles on their rival HD DVD format - the last official quote we had from the group put that figure at 75% of independent studios in Europe now releasing titles on HD DVD.

HD DVD has always been a cheaper format to manufacture, but Infodisc's flexibility as a small, independent Blu-ray disc producer will mean that costs will come down (even more so when other independent manufacturers get up and running - predicted to be very soon) and they can handle smaller production runs, ideal for smaller disc releases.

This may well change the minds of some independent European studios as to which HD format to go with, especially if cost and the current manufacturer's restrictive tie-ins with big studios was one of the reasons for going down the HD DVD route in the first place.

This development isn't going to change the outcome of the dominant disc format overnight, but industry watchers and those with an interest in how this thing plays out would be wise to note this news, and watch for the wider implications it will almost certainly bring in time.


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