By Jon Fortt
December 4, 2006

Cymfony, a firm that measures online social media buzz, issued a report today that delivers some bad news to Sony and the other backers of the Blu-ray disc format for next-generation DVDs:

HD DVD is getting more love online.

The report, titled “A Blue Christmas for Blu-ray,” includes the following points:

  • Though Blu-ray and HD DVD are getting roughly the same number of mentions online, there are 46 percent more positive discussions about HD DVD than Blu-ray.
  • More than half of the discussions of either format were “neutral” – neither positive nor negative. Blu-ray had equal proportions of positive and negative buzz (about 23.5 percent each), while HD DVD had a far greater proportion of positive buzz (14.2 percent negative vs. 32.9 percent positive).
  • Few posts focus on storage capacity and advanced interactivity, two features that would play to Blu-ray’s advantage.
  • Sony’s track record with Betamax and MiniDisc is making it an easy target for Blu-ray’s online detractors.
  • Sony’s inclusion of a Blu-ray player with the PS3 may have backfired: Some gamers were unhappy that it drove up the player’s cost and pushed them into the Blu-ray camp.

Cymfony said it selected 2,000 posts to analyze the online discussion of the next-gen formats. (I’m somewhat skeptical of the report in some ways, since I’m not sure who paid for it or whose interests it was meant to serve. But its methodology and conclusions do seem credible.)

Here’s the most interesting chart from the report, showing the general topic of posts and the volume of posts broken out by format:

I’ll emphasize that I do not believe this seals the deal for either format; what the report shows most overwhelmingly is that mainstream consumers aren’t that interested in either format. But this is interesting because of what it says about the format wars in the early going.

Below is another chart from the report that underscores the point: Bloggers who are knocking Blu-ray aren’t so much upset about the format war, they’re generally bagging on Sony and the PS3. This chart shows what Blu-ray criticism is about:

So it doesn’t look great for either format. But it looks less great for Blu-ray right now.

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