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article imageBlu-ray: The most successful high-def DVD brand that nobody buys

By Chris Hogg     May 2, 2008 in Technology
The Blu-ray format might have beat out HD DVD in the next-gen high-def DVD format war, but that does not mean people are buying it. According to new NPD Group numbers, sales have gone more flaccid than the tenth take on a Vivid porn shoot.
Digital Journal -- Market research company, the NPD Group, has published a new report saying standalone Blu-ray player unit sales have plummeted 40 per cent from January to February in the United States. Furthermore, the format only saw a 2 per cent increase from February to March according to NPD's retail tracking service.
On the flip side, HD DVD player unit sales dropped 13 per cent from January to February, and 65 per cent from February to March as production halted and inventory was soaked up. As previously reported, Toshiba is estimated to have lost about $1 billion in the format war against Blu-ray.
"That standalone Blu-ray players haven't picked up significantly from HD DVD's loss shows that few consumers were dissuaded primarily by the 'format war'," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis, NPD. "When we surveyed consumers late last year, an overwhelming number of them said they weren't investing in a new next-generation player because their old DVD player worked well and next-generation players were too expensive. It's clear from retail sales that those consumer sentiments are still holding true."
Blu-ray Discs
Blu-ray Discs
Photo by switchstyle (
According to NPD Group, consumers are actually moving toward up-converting DVD players rather than true high-def DVD players, as sales climbed 5 per cent in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the same time the year before.
An up-converting DVD player will take a standard definition video and "up-convert" it into high-def; the picture might look decent but it's not true high-definition. However, even though a consumer is not getting "true' high-definition video, it's a great way to save a boatload of cash.
For example, in the United States, Best Buy's cheapest Blu-ray player runs at $399, while up-converting DVD players run for as little as $46.
I would imagine Blu-ray player prices have to drop at least a couple hundred dollars before the average consumer would even consider purchasing a unit. Sony doesn't expect that to happen until next year at the earliest.
"Consumers continue to see a gap between Blu-ray's premium video quality and features and its premium price," said Rubin. "As content availability improves, this holiday season will be the best opportunity to date for retailers and manufacturers to promote Blu-ray adoption."
Another potential threat to the Blu-ray format comes from companies like Apple who just announced new movie releases from major film studios and premier independent studios are available for purchase on the iTunes Store on the same day as their DVD release. That's right, you can now download movies directly to your Apple TV or iPod or computer the same day they come out on DVD, meaning you don't even have to leave your home to rent or buy a movie.
This technology will not only hurt Blu-ray but also video rental stores. Blockbuster should star in the next Cheech & Chong movie, "Profits up in Smoke."
iTunes Movies
Apple now lets consumers download new movie releases to their computer, Apple TV or iPod the same day DVDs are released.
Photo courtesy Apple
Apple will carry titles from 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lionsgate, Image Entertainment and First Look Studios.
High-definition might offer the bonus of a beautiful picture, but in today's consumer playground of choice, inexpensive direct downloads can be just as much of an attractive proposition.
And in case you were curious about the standard ol' DVD player: sales were down 39 per cent in Q1 of 2008 over the same period the year before.
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