HD DVD player sales grind to virtual halt

Warner Home Video’s defection from the HD DVD camp may have put a damper on hardware sales,” Thomas K. Arnold reports for The Hollywood Reporter.

“In the week since the studio’s surprise early-January announcement that after May it will support only the rival Blu-ray Disc format, sales of HD DVD players ground to a virtual halt, giving Blu-ray hardware a whopping 93 percent sales advantage, according to data from the NPD Group,” Arnold reports.

“According to raw retail data collected by NPD, consumers bought just 1,758 HD DVD players the week of January 12, down from 14,558 players the week before. In contrast, consumers bought 21,770 Blu-ray Disc machines, up from 15,257 the previous week,” Arnold reports.

“NPD tracks point-of-sale data from major U.S. retailers that collectively account for about two-thirds of consumer electronics hardware sales,” Arnold reports.

Full article here.

31 Comments

  1. > In contrast, consumers bought 21,770 Blu-ray Disc machines, up from 15,257 the previous week

    20,000 is considered a GOOD week?! Now I really believe Apple’s video rental service (using Apple TV) can bypass this whole transition from standard DVD to HD DVD.

  2. Well, the extremely low numbers, even for BluRay (21k or so for one week) are precisely the consequence of the format war. And it is obvious that once this war ends, these numbers will skyrocket.

    As much as I would love to agree with ken1w regarding the HD optical media skipping part and going straight to downloads, it ain’t happening in a big way anytime soon.

    ITunes store has been out for almost five years. In those five years, they have managed to grab at most 15% of music sales, and that is only in some markets. Globally, their share is insignificant. Now, music is easily downloadable even on very crappy DSL or GPRS (and perhaps even on dial-up!). Yet, adoption rate is still modest and has long way to go.

    There are huge obstacles for downloading high definition video. Minuscule percentage of our the world population has access to broadband (any broadband, and that includes 384k). To be able to download HD movie with reasonable speed (and with blu-ray quality), you must have 2-3Mbps pipe. While most of us who participate on these forums might have that, we still only represent a drop in the ocean of the world population.

    As for optical HD format, I am expecting Toshiba to throw in the towel by the end of June. Hopefully, we’ll then be seeing rapid development of cheap BD players, as well as fast conversion of back catalogues by the studios. BlockBuster is already on board, as well as NetFlix. By next Christmas, BD players should be selling below $200, and the ‘Black Friday’ sales might even have them go for under $100.

  3. It wasn’t so much Warner Home Video’s announcement as it was the HD group’s reaction to it, canceling all scheduled press conferences at the convention rather that putting their own spin on it that put the final nail in the coffin.
    All anyone was talking about was HD’s reaction to the news not so much the news itself.

    That should go down as one of the biggest blunders in P.R. history.

  4. “According to raw retail data collected by NPD, consumers bought just 1,758 HD DVD players the week of January 12, down from 14,558 players the week before.”

    And how many of those 14,558 HD DVD players have been or will be returned?

  5. Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer to have physical media for my video and audio entertainment. Hard drives die, but I have yet to have a CD or DVD go bad on me. I guess it boils down to me preferring to keep my media separate from my media player, which isn’t possible with download formats (the media is on a hard drive that is somehow attached to your computer, whether built-in, externally, through USB/FW, or over a network to a SAN or similar). I would love to see media in a solid state format, though- it could be much smaller physically, yet still have the longevity of other physical media.

  6. “I’m still not sure why neither is offered as a build-to-order option on the Mac Pros.”

    Because it would be foolish to offer Blu-Ray drives to Mac Pro. Like, why? Who watches movies on a computer that’s meant for professional work, usually with graphics? And I don’t see any software delivered on Blu-Ray discs either. Until Blu-Ray actually starts to replace the standard DVD, a Blu-Ray player in a Mac Pro (or in any Mac or other computer, for that matter) is just useless and overpriced gimmick.

  7. Even if the HD-DVD Camp had continued to act like nothing happen, the press would have turned the event into a circus. The questions all would have been, you now only have 2 studios producing content for your players, what do you intend to do now? How do you get the momentum back? Are you going to be able to change their mind? Are you going to quit now, and all the other silly questions.

    By canceling their events, they eliminated having their people look foolish to try and defend the un-defendable.

    The best thing they could have done is looked at the hand-writing on the wall and announced they are going to produce Blu-Ray players at a lower cost and higher quality and left the war behind.

    Stats are stats, and HD-DVD for whatever reason never sold as well as Blu-Ray.. They only caught up to some degree when they began to fire sale players ($99 at Walmart on Black Friday etc) and that was probably not sustainable by any of them. The combo players were too expensive to even ponder.. So one format benefits us all.

    Digital downloads are too premature.. Significant percentages of people don’t even have broadband, and if they have DSL, don’t have the bandwidth to download HD files effectively.. Sure it can be done, but at the usual low cost DSL speeds, it would take a day or more to download an HD movie.

  8. @Gman

    BluRay maxes out ~40 mb/sec. Apple’s 720p “HD” downloads max out around 7 mb/sec, which is less than some of the better performing SD DVDs that can go as high as ~8 mb/sec.

  9. Tommy Boy: I’m still not sure why neither is offered as a build-to-order option on the Mac Pros.

    The main reason is probably that Jobs has so far refused to subject MacOS X to the draconian DRM shackles the labels demand in order to allow HD playback.

    Look at Vista’s media architecture (including automatic crippling of all outputs as soon as anything in the system is “not approved” by the studios) and ask yourself if you’d really want to live with that kind of crap in return.

    But that also means that the labels don’t allow HD rentals on Macs either.

    They will at some point realize that they’ve got no chance with their progressively failing DRM strategy and (unlike Microsoft) Jobs appears to bank on that. And I think he is right in keeping the pressure up.

    AppleTV rentals can be a door opener in more than just one respect. Physical media hae their advantages, but they are also cumbersome for everybody involved. The studios will some day relent, and prematurely giving in to their demands would be the wrong approach.

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