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12/8/2006
02:43 PM
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Sony Blu-Ray Gets 'General Dislike' Among Web Posters

Early adopters more frequently praise rival HD DVD, while panning Sony's high-definition format.

Internet discussions on Sony's Blu-ray show a general dislike for the high-definition format that's a key component in the company's overall strategy for grabbing a big share of the high-definition consumer electronics market, a research firm says.

A Cymfony Inc. analysis of comments on 323 blogs, discussion boards, and other social media show that positive comments on Blu-ray's rival HD DVD, backed by Toshiba and other tech companies, are 46% higher. In addition, 2.5 times more posts discussed being impressed with HD DVD than with Blu-ray.

Nearly 60% of the comments were on 44 sites with a focus on early adopters of entertainment technology, particularly videophiles and gamers. While early adopters aren't always reflective of how the general consumer population will react to technology, they do set a tone and influence media coverage.

Sony is in a high-stakes war with HD DVD supporters to influence consumers, as well as manufacturers of high-definition DVD players. The battle is often compared to the VHS-Betamax battle that ushered in the VCR era. Sony lost with Betamax, and many posters in the Cymfony survey believed that it would lose again with Blu-ray.

Much of the Blu-ray discussion on the Web was driven by the Nov. 17 release of Sony's PlayStation 3, which includes a Blu-ray player, Cymfony said. While Sony hoped to seed the market for Blu-ray through PS3, the research firm says the technology wasn't well received among posters.

A significant segment of the audience expressed a "general dislike" for Blu-ray, often based on doubt regarding Sony's credibility as an innovator, given its failures with Betamax and the MiniDisc. They also questioned Sony's chances of succeeding with the new platform.

Posters resented having the Blu-ray player forced on them through PS3, Cymfony said. Microsoft, on the other hand, was praised for offering an HD DVD player as an option to the Xbox 360.

Posters also were concerned that the Blu-ray player wouldn't be compatible with older high-definition TVs, the research firm said. Xbox 360, on the other hand, was praised for its ability to display in lower resolutions.

The analysis found 70% more posts discussing HD DVD's advantages than Blu-ray's strengths, which include its highly promoted larger storage capacity. Posters doubted the extra capacity would be needed for games or movies.

The Cymfony report, released this week and available online, analyzed more than 17,600 posts on social media sites between Oct. 1 and Nov. 23. The discussions were evenly divided between HD DVD, supported by Toshiba and NEC; and Blu-ray, which is favored by Sony, Hitachi, and Philips.

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