Sony Corp. (SNE) said Monday it is bringing out a cheaper player for Blu-ray discs early this summer, a crucial step in its battle to make the high-definition format the replacement for DVDs.
The BDP-S300 will cost $599, yet will have the same capabilities as the $999 BDP-S1 Sony is currently selling, said Randy Waynick, senior vice president of the home products division of Sony Electronics.
Sony and Samsung Corp., which also makes a Blu-ray player, have been undersold by Toshiba Corp.'s players for the rival HD DVD format. Toshiba has a model on the market for $499.
However, sales of players for either format have been tepid, as consumers have stood back, waiting for the market to settle on one of the discs.
Most people buying high-definition discs are apparently doing so to play them on PlayStation 3 game consoles. There are two versions of the console, for $499 and $599, and Sony sold 1.8 million units last year.
"Eighty percent of people who buy a PS3 also buy Blu-ray movies to go with it," Waynick told reporters at a meeting here.
"The consumers have determined that that's the format they're choosing to go with," he said, citing retail data from Nielsen VideoScan that showed Blu-ray discs outselling HD DVDs by three to one this year.
The BDP-S300 is a smaller unit than the BDP-S1, and is about the same size as a DVD player. Like the current model, it will be able to output a signal in the highest high-definition format, known as 1080p. It will also be able to play CDs, which the BDP-S1 does not.
Stan Glasgow, president of Sony Electronics, told reporters at a meeting here that by Christmas, prices for Blu-ray players should be down below $500.
Sony has previously complained that DVD players became a commodity product too soon, and that it was hard to make a profit in a market dominated by $50 units.
Glasgow predicted that Blu-ray players would take the same route.
"Over time, I think it will be just like DVD," he said.