During these unprecedented economic times, not every
category of the economy is completely stinking it up. Hollywood studios and
large electronics companies have put a major push to make Blu-ray get up and
dance on its own as an HD audio-video format and early signs show that in 2009,
the format is gaining some significant traction despite the gloom and doom
economic conditions during the holiday season this year.
A study released today by the NPD Group and DisplaySearch
show a 300 percent increase in Blu-ray player sales in the week after
Thanksgiving from 2007 to 2008. It is important to note that the competing HD
disc format, HD DVD, was still viable this time last year. In fact many argue
as of Black Friday 2007 that the Toshiba-Microsoft backed HD DVD format was
winning the format war with $99 players and Xbox 360 backwards compatibility.
Today the HD disc format war is long over and consumers looking to get the most
out of their 1080p flat HDTVs are looking to Blu-ray for their movie content. These
Blu-ray sales numbers exclude sales of Sony Playstation 3 gaming console which
is Blu-ray based and still very popular.
Blu-ray software broke sales records this fall with over
2,000,000 discs sold in October 2008 according to the Red Hill Group. Sales
picked up significantly after that as well with the week ending December 6,
2008 showing 1.7 million discs sold. The blockbuster title The Dark Knight,
sold over 1.7 million titles by December 9, 2008 on Blu-ray alone. No numbers
were released on the volume of returns because of the need for firmware updates
to players that couldn't play the feature-laden disc. Other titles such as
Wall-E, the Chronicles of Narnia and Iron Man helped power Blu-ray disc sales
to these new heights. Also more affordable players opened up new markets as
Blu-ray players are no longer $1,000 per unit. Some players are as affordable
as $200 today with signs pointing towards them getting even lower.
Players still have a long way to go to command the kind of
90 plus percent marketshare seen by VHS and DVD-Video however. Blu-ray players
are still slow to load and often become obsolete or difficult to upgrade via
firmware thus needing professional installation or repair in order to play the
latest discs. As players get less and less expensive, they also need to include
network connectivity so that upgrading firmware and software is simple for even
the most tech-challenged end users.