The HD DVD camp is slashing player prices in a last-ditch effort to revive the ailing format. HD DVD has been eclipsed by its competitor Blu-ray in movie and player sales since the formats launched in Australia.
Today, Microsoft cut the price of its HD DVD player add-on for the Xbox 360 by half to $129.95. On January 22, Toshiba, the main backer of HD DVD, cut the prices of three of its players by as much as 50 per cent.
According to market watcher GfK, which tracks Blu-ray and HD DVD sales across all major Australian retailers, Blu-ray accounted for 81 per cent of all high definition player sales in December last year. This was consistent with sales results throughout the year.
But that figure doesn’t include Playstation 3, which has a built in Blu-ray player and accounts for 95 per cent of all high-definition players sold to date.
A Sony spokesman said about 155,000 PS3s were sold in Australia last year. The console debuted locally in March.
The success of the PS3 has done wonders for Blu-ray’s market share and this has translated into superior software sales. Last year, 83 per cent of high-definition movies sold were in the Blu-ray format, with HD DVD making up the remaining 17 per cent. In January Blu-ray’s lead dropped slightly to 80 per cent.
The Blu-ray advantage is set to become more pronounced once the movie studio Warner Bros’s decision in January to drop HD DVD altogether trickles down to the local market.
In the US, sales of HD DVD players plunged in the week after Warner’s January 4 announcement, with Blu-ray accounting for 90 per cent of all high-definition hardware sales, according to market research firm NPD Group.
Universal, one of the only two major movie studios still supporting HD DVD, recently reiterated its support for the format by announcing it would release 20 HD DVD titles in 2008. They include Atonement (April 30), The Kingdom (February 6), Elizabeth: the Golden Age (March 12), American Gangster (May 14) and Charlie Wilson’s War (June 4).
There are currently about 188 Blu-ray and 111 HD DVD movies on sale in Australia.
Australians have generally been reluctant to upgrade to one of the new highdefinition disc formats while the format war is still raging.