Friday, July 13, 2007

HD DVD consortium declares premature victory in Europe

The European HD-DVD group has announced rather misleading figures that show the format's market dominance in several European countries. According to their statistics, Blu-ray only makes up 1/4 of the high-definition market in Europe.
HD DVD video players have outsold rival standard Blu-ray players by a three-to-one margin in Europe's main markets so far this year, according to a lobby group.

The European HD DVD Promotional Group claimed it had 74 percent market share in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland for stand-alone players
Which all seems very open-and-close, until you read the fine print.

The figures for Blu-ray didn't take into account Sony's PlayStation 3 - only stand-along players for both formats were included. One commenter on the Engadget story about this annoucement points out (not sure where the figures came from) that if you include the sales of the PS3 and the Xbox360 add-on in the French figures through April, HD-DVD jumps from 2,600 to 10,000 while Blu-ray goes from 800 to 108,000.

The HD-DVD group declined to give any specific numbers of HD players shipped in their statement, and on top of that, Blu-ray discs are still selling significantly more copies than their HD-DVD counterparts.

As the Yahoo! article points out, the VHS/Beta format war took almost a decade before a winner emerged, and it's likely that a similar timeframe might be needed here before there's a clear victor in the high-def struggle.

We're still a couple of years away from mass-market pricing as well - it took DVD a few years before players were cheap enough that the general public bothered with the format. And there was only one DVD format; with two jostling for supremacy this time around, consumer confusion might drag the whole thing out even longer.

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