The battle for supremacy in the high-definition disc market continues unabated—although it says something that the conflict is mostly being waged in press releases and fuzzy statistical claims rather than on the basis of, say, sales. Remember last week when the HD DVD promotional group claimed to be getting a 74 percent market share in Europe? Part of the reason it arrived at that rosy-seeming figure is that it ignored the sales Blu-ray drives for PCs and PlayStation 3 gaming consoles and compared only the sales of dedicated Blu-ray video players to HD DVD video players. On that basis, HD DVD does seem to have an advantage, primarily because stand-alone HD DVD players are currently less expensive than their Blu-ray counterparts. However, Blu-ray’s own European promotional group has characterized HD DVD’s market share claims as “misleading and misrepresentative:” after all, PlayStation 3 consoles are essentially the cheapest Blu-ray players on the market. According to the Blu-ray Disc Association Promotions Committee, including PlayStation 3 and PC drive sales, Blu-ray accounts for almost 95 percent of all high-definition disc hardware sales in Europe so far in 2007.
HD DVD proponents counter that sales dedicated disc players is the only meaningful way to compare the competing technologies, since those customers are buying the units to view movies, and movie sales are what will make or break a format. Conversely, PlayStation 3 owners are characterized as primarily being interested in gaming, not movies.
But the HD DVD promotions group isn’t batting an eyebrow: in fact, its North American arm today moved on to claim second quarter HD DVD hardware sales were up 37 percent from the first quarter of 2007, and “software sales”—e.g., movies—saw a 20 percent increase in growth over the same period. How did Blu-ray fare? According to the HD DVD camp, they saw hardware sales shrink 20 percent in the same period, and saw software sales slump 27 percent. All this is, of course, based on NPD reports, Nielsen NetRatings data, and point of sale information from movie studios.
Expect a counterclaim from the Blu-ray camp in five…four…three….