Blu-ray takes Australia? not quite yet

AustraliaBlu-ray3JB HiFi to stock Blu-ray products only
The big news this week from Australia is that one of the countries largest home electronics retailers, JB HiFi, has announced that they will only be stocking high definition movies on the Blu-ray Disc format. No HD DVD movies will be sold at JB HiFi stores. With 72 stores spread through out the continent, JB HiFi has a major retail presence in the region. According to local residents, JB HiFi is a common destination for music and movie lovers in Australia and has been steadily increasing in popularity.

JB HiFi speaks out
A JB HiFi marketing director made the following statements at the Blu-ray launch event in Australia.

“Blu-ray is the only format that has the ability to tell the whole story, with the most comprehensive offering on the market. With seven of Hollywood’s leading studios accounting for the vast majority of 2006’s home video sales, among the 170 plus companies globally that support Blu-ray Disc, it makes sense that content will be king when it comes to Blu-ray.
Indeed this is the reason that we have decided to only stock Blu-ray products at JB Hi-Fi. The range of exciting new film and TV releases as well as the potential back catalogue means that we can deliver everyone’s favourite films on Blu-ray.”

HD DVD options available in Australia
Many publications and websites are claiming Blu-ray victory in Australia after this JB HiFi exclusivity news hit the wire, but we’ve seen this type of premature victory cry many times before from the Blu-ray camp. I try to look at the big picture and the other side of the story most of the time, so let’s look at the HD DVD options that will be available in Australia, even without JB HiFi support. JB HiFi’s prime competitor, Harvey Norman, has not announced any type of format exclusivity and will almost certainly carry HD DVD movies and hardware. Then there are other national chains such as Good Guys, Dick Smith Electronics, Sanity/Virgin or general department stores such as Myer, Target, Kmart and others. All of these stores are expected to carry HD DVD products.

But what about online options?
Australian consumers will still have the option to purchase from EzyDVD (a major online movie retailer) as well as other websites that carry HD DVD. Importing HD DVD’s is another option, especially since HD DVD lacks any region code restrictions.

Looking at all of these alternative stores that could stock HD DVD products, online options and import possibilities, I would be hard pressed to say that Blu-ray has won Australia. Nevertheless, it will be an interesting battle and I will certainly stay tuned to the Australian market news to see if the HD DVD camp responds with any force. More discussion can be found over in the HD DVD and Blu-ray presence in Australia thread at, an optical storage forum with mostly Australian members. If you have any comments to share on the Australian battle front, please let me know by replying in the comments section.

Editor’s note: The forum mentioned above has been decommissioned, and the domain now shows up on Mozilla’s malware list. Due to this, I have removed the hyperlink.

About Wes Novack

Wesley Novack is a Technologist working in the software industry, with extensive experience building and managing highly available applications, services, and systems in the public cloud. He has a breadth of experience in online publishing, the consumer electronics industry, and building internet communities. Wes enjoys hanging with his family, skateboarding, hiking, the vegan lifestyle, and a good cup of tea. You can find him on Twitter @WesleyTech.

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5 Comments on “Blu-ray takes Australia? not quite yet”

  1. Duh, one store doesn’t guarantee a win for the whole continent. This got blown way out of proportion by most sites IMO. I’m not in Australia and have never been there, so I can’t really measure the importance of JB HiFi, but there is no way it guarantees a victory for Blu-ray.

  2. Yeah, while JB does have a pretty damn big chunk of the market, it doesn’t show any sign of a win yet.

    It does however give BD a rather large advantage, considering the number of stores, and the distribution of the stores across the continent, it will definately put a lot of pressure on HD-DVD.

    Even if the pressure is only an effect that the media itself has now propagated, it will certainly give BD a bit more of a kickstart.

    Unlike our american friends, HD-DVD has not really even been released over here. Both HD and BD are on equal footing currently in australia, and the only thing that will realistically change that is media(news stories) support, which currently atleast, is firmly sitting behind BD.


  3. The original article says that at least two major retailers are not carrying HD DVD and a third had yet to determine if they would.

    It seems as if Toshiba has tried to take on too many fronts and can’t handle them all. Lite-On can’t finish their HD DVD OEM drive and have been requesting Toshiba to help and Toshiba hasn’t helped out. Lite-On got the assistance of BenQ and (If memory serves me) Panasonic to finish the Blu-ray version.

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