New Chinese Threat to Blu-ray – It may have seemed that following the HD DVD/Blu-ray fight Blu-ray was destined to be the top physical format for hi-def video worldwide. Well, think again. The China Blue Hi-definition Disk (CBHD) is the new challenger which has already outsold Blu-ray in China. It uses licensed Toshiba technology similar to HD DVD, its discs that are cheaper to make than Blu-rays, and the compatible players for CBHD are also cheaper and are selling in China at three times the rate of Blu-ray players. Many English language movies show up on CBHD and English is the second most-spoken language in Asia. The only U.S. studio on board with CBHD so far is Warner Bros., but considering the huge market there, the other studios will probably soon follow. With the increasing popularity of streaming HD movies online, Blu-ray now has two formidable challenges to consider.
Criterion Polls Site Visitors To Choose Blu-ray Releases – Carriage-trade repackager Criterion Collection, who have already restored a huge collection of classic films in pristine image and sound reissues with voluminous notes and extras, is expanding its few Blu-ray releases via a poll of visitors to their website. Visitors recently chose Howard’s End over Down By Lawy, Au Revoir Les Enfants and Picnic at Hanging Rock as one of the next Blu-ray reissues. At the same time Criterion will also be issuing on Blu-ray restorations of Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire and Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding. You have to look closely at the Criterion boxes because they don’t use the blue top & bottom packaging dictated by Sony, usually having only the words Blu-ray in small type on the back.
Harman Performance Group Revamps Marketing – Harman International’s high-end audio brands Lexicon, Revel, Mark Levinson, and JBL Synthesis speakers constitute its performance AV group (HPAV) in a recent consolidation, while Harman Consumer continues to market JBL speakers under $3000 a pair, Infinity speakers, Harman Kardon electronics, and aftermarket car audio gear. Another brand under the Harman aegis is the pro-audio line Crown. A new distribution strategy offers dealers carrying one of the HPAV brands the ability to carry all of them. About 450 dealers sell HPAV products, which is down about 10% to 15% since the restructuring. In addition to an incentive and demo program for dealers, Harman will be stepping up advertising and promotion of their lines. They are also touring a 53-foot tractor trailer with 1000 square feet of demo space for working system, to tie in with dealer promotional events.
Nothin’ Like a Good Ol’ Recession for Consumer Electronics – Sure, sales of consumer electronics are supposed to drop about 8% this year, the first decline since 2001, but adversity seems to be the mother of invention. People are cutting back on going out and spending more on various facets of entertainment in the home, as well as on inexpensive, compact portable gadgets to have with them when they do go out. Home theater gear is selling very well, and more and more Americans are regarding some sort of home theater center as a vital aspect of their homes. Instead of upgrading to all-the-whistles computers, many are carrying around slim Netbooks – some for as little as $200. Digital cameras are everywhere now, especially as part of many even low-end cell phones. Then there is the growing number of book readers now converting to the Kindle or one of the other electronic book gadgets. In fact, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, every U.S. home now overflows with more than two dozen electronic devices on average. And people are buying DVDs, Blu-rays, games and downloading movies and games like there’s no tomorrow.