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Standard DVDs Outsell Both HD-DVD and Blu-ray Discs Combined

May 7, 2007 12:00 PM

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While video hardware suppliers continue to re-adjust plans on the Blu-ray Disc/HD DVD front, consumers appear to be more than content with conventional DVD players, according to recent figures by the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG). Consumer Electronics Daily reports that the first quarter of 2007 was the strongest Q1 in the history of DVD hardware and software sales.

Based on data from the Consumer Electronics Association, retailers, and manufacturers, DEG estimates that eight million DVD players were sold to U.S. customers from January through March of this year, the highest volume since the fourth quarter of 2001. Overall, some 203 million DVD players have been sold to consumers since the format launched in 1997.

By contrast, Toshiba announced in April that it had sold 100,000 standalone HD-DVD players in the 12 months since HD DVD’s launch. According to Consumer Electronics Daily, sales of standalone Blu-ray Disc players likely mirrored those of HD DVD, although Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles add another 1.2 million Blu-ray Disc player sales to the overall numbers.

On the software side, DVD disc sales are still going strong as well while Blu-ray and HD-DVD titles trickle out of the gate. The 1.2 million Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs sold in Q1 2007 was less than 1 percent of the 414.4 million DVD titles sold in the same period. Since the launch of HD DVD a year ago, 2.14 million Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs have sold compared with 1.675 billion DVDs in the 10-year life of the format, according to DEG figures.

Confusion over the incompatible high-definition disc formats is a primary reason for consumer reticence in buying next-gen DVD. Hardware suppliers have taken notice and are restructuring plans. Sharp, which planned to have a Blu-ray Disc player in the market early this year, now says it will deliver one to the United States by year's end. The company is also studying several different types of technology in the dual-format area, according to a company spokesperson.

Onkyo, which announced plans at CES for an HD-DVD player this year, has left the door open for Blu-ray as well. At a spring line show late last month, Onkyo executives told journalists that it was still evaluating the option of introducing a Blu-ray Disc player along with the announced HD-DVD player—and maybe even a combination model.

Samsung is following its Korean rival, LG Electronics, into the dual-format space. Samsung said last month that it would ship an HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc player during the fourth quarter. Samsung didn’t disclose pricing for the dual-format player but said that it would support interactive features of both formats, unlike the LG’s $1,200 BH100, which is a full Blu-ray Disc player with limited HD-DVD playback capability. The BH100 does not support the interactive features of HD DVD.

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