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Following the commercial launch of the universal player that can tap both Blu-ray and HD DVD markets there are many more similar devices incoming according to technology research firm ABI research, which believes that such hybrid players will essentially end the war of formats. However, due to high pricing of blue-laser players their mass adoption is still far ahead.

ABI Research believes that by creating a player that accommodates both Blu-ray and  HD-DVD discs, the Korean manufacturer LG Electronics may have created a precedent that the rest of the industry will have to follow.

“We believe that universal players will come to dominate the high-definition DVD player market,” said Steve Wilson, the firm’s principal analyst of consumer electronics.

The research firm also speculates that Samsung is expected to release its own universal player “soon”, and others, including large consumer electronics vendors, may follow suit “before long”. ABI Research forecasts sales of 2.4 million players in 2007, rising to 55 million in 2011.

Many observers expect that the demands of supporting both formats would significantly increase the price of universal players. While there is some additional cost in the optical pickup and the LG player’s initial price is quite steep at $1200, Mr. Wilson expects these prices to drop dramatically as new manufacturers come to market with universal players.

“That $1200 price would seem to be more about matching Blu-ray player prices than about reflecting the cost of producing a universal player. There’s no reason universal players should cost significantly more than HD or Blu-ray players,” the analyst explained.

However, despite of the fact that a universal player is available and customers are able to acquire movies without taking into account whether their players support the particular format or not, the market growth will remain slow until prices for players fall significantly.

“The universal player market is still in its nascent stages, and developers are trying to maximize their revenues. The BOM (bill of material) price will start to fall once fully integrated chipsets reach the market. There will be downward pressure on prices for players of all types: ABI Research believes that prices will have to drop below $200 before true mass adoption takes off. That should happen by 2009,” Mr. Wilson said.

Currently only Toshiba’s entry-level HD DVD player costs about $330 with recommended retail pricing of $399.

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