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6/4/2007
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Sony Drops Price Of Upcoming Blu-ray Player

Even with the price cut, however, Sony's lowest cost Blu-ray player is still more expensive than rival Toshiba's HD DVD player, which sells for $400.

Sony is dropping the price of its new Blu-ray player even before the device ships.

When unveiled in February, Sony said the BDP-S300 would sell for $599. On Monday, the company said it had cut the price by $100. A spokesman said the drop was due to lower-than-expected manufacturing costs.

Sony has been steadily reducing the prices of its Blu-ray players. Sony's first-generation product, the BDP-S1, for example, sold for $1,000 when it shipped in November of last year. The latest version sells for $799 today.

Even with the price cut, however, Sony's lowest cost Blu-ray player is still more expensive than rival Toshiba's HD DVD player, which sells for $400. Sony's price drop, however, was unrelated to Toshiba's products, the spokesman said. "That really has nothing to do with it."

HD DVD and Blu-ray are competing high-definition formats. During the first quarter of the year, Blu-ray movie sales accounted for more than 60% of the market, far outpacing HD DVD films, according to market researcher Nielsen VideoScan. Blu-ray discs have steadily grabbed market share since the release of Sony's PlayStation 3 videogame console, which shipped last November with a built-in Blu-ray DVD player.

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, but hopes to avoid the same fate with Blu-ray by leveraging the popularity of its PlayStation console.

Some experts, however, see combination Blu-ray/HD DVD drives as a possible way of avoiding a format war. Hitachi-LG Data Storage, for example, has shipped a combo PC drive. LG Electronics in January launched the first DVD player that could play both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs.

Nevertheless, many Hollywood and consumer electronics manufacturers are taking sides in support of either Blu-ray or HD DVD. Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Pictures, and Sony are exclusively releasing DVDs in Blu-ray, while Universal Studios is distributing only in HD DVD. Among player manufacturers, Sony, Hitachi and Philips favor Blu-ray, while Toshiba and NEC support HD DVD. Toshiba led the effort in the creation of HD DVD.

Warner and Paramount Pictures are the only two major studios that are releasing movies in both formats.

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