Will 2009 (Finally) Be Blu-ray’s Year?

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Sales of Blu-ray players in 2008 aren't exactly stellar, despite lower prices and the lack of competition from the recently departed HD-DVD format. But are things looking up for Blu-ray? Recent reports indicate that 2009 may bring better times for Sony's high-def video format.

According to a report from Futuresource, sales of Blu-ray discs and players in Europe are up significantly this holiday season, and the upswing is expected to continue into the new year. The report optimistically predicts that European sales of Blu-ray players will more than triple in 2009, reaching 2.5 million units-and that excludes sales of Playstation 3 consoles, which double as Blu-ray players.

Sales of Blu-ray discs are picking up, too. Shoppers worldwide are snapping up the Blu-ray version of Christopher Nolan's Batman sequel The Dark Knight in huge numbers: More than 1 million copies have sold in the U.S. alone, and 1.7 million globally. Of course, those numbers are tiny compared to DVD sales; combined DVD and Blu-ray sales for The Dark Knight total 13.5 million worldwide. However, the Blu-ray figures indicate that more consumers are seeking HD content for their new big-screen TVs.

Lastly, a report from CDRinfo states that Japanese software developer Pony/Canon will release a hybrid Blu-ray/DVD movie disc in Japan in February. The format, designed to speed the transition from DVD to Blu-ray, is compatible with current DVD and Blu-ray players, according to the report. Unfortunately, the initial hybrid releases will cost more than standard DVDs, and it's unclear when or if they'll find their way to North America.

While the hybrid disc's impact on Blu-ray sales is questionable, it appears that consumers may finally be taking to the HD movie format.

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