By James Wells in Berlin

BERLIN: The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) celebrated the demise of the HD-DVD format with a dedicated press conference at IFA in Berlin where the format was described as “approaching critical mass”.

According to the chairman of the BDA European Promotions Committee, Frank Simonis, while the PlayStation 3 (PS3)dominates the awareness and adoption of the format, it is predicted that sales of Blu-ray discs will reach 12 million this year, accounting for just two per cent of video sales volume. Sales are expected to rise to 240 million by 2012 by which time the average price would have fallen to under 16 Euros.

“In Europe the number of people using Blu-ray technology is rapidly approaching a critical mass”, said Simonis

He claimed the biggest obstacles remain the price and the lack of knowledge on the part of potential customers. While 78 per cent of consumers were aware of the name of the new technology, only 17 per cent knew what it actually delivered.

Simonis also claimed sales of playback units during the first half of the year rose by 340 per cent in Germany, and this year he expects to see the price fall by some 25 per cent.

“Perhaps one of the final pieces in the jigsaw is to encourage more retailers to back Blu-ray and to give it prominence in their stores and to help raise awareness amongst a consumer market that responds favourably whenever they are introduced to this exciting new home entertainment technology.“

According to the consultancy Futuresource, Blu-ray will then have a 61 per cent share of the market in the USA. The biggest market in Europe will be in France, with 50 per cent, followed by Germany (46 per cent) and the UK (44 per cent).