Euro HD DVD camp clams up on format sales figures
What's it got to hide?
The European HD DVD Promotional Group has refused to back up claims that the next-generation optical disc format it's backing is the movie buff's favourite by revealing how many HD DVD players have been bought over here.
Register Hardware asked it this question because earlier this week the organisation announced that numbers garnered independently by local market watcher GfK showed that 3.8 HD DVD discs have been sold for every player purchased in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Benelux countries.
By contrast, only 0.6 Blu-ray Discs have been sold for every BD-capable player and console bought in those regions.
So HD DVD is the most popular format then? Well, not necessarily - it all depends on the number of units of each type of playback device that have been sold.
Yes, HD DVD backers may, on average, have purchased 3.8 discs each. But if there are only a hundred of them, that's just 380 discs. If Sony has shipped more than a million PlayStation 3s in Europe, that's 600,000 discs - rather more than 380.
Now which is the most popular format, in terms of disc sales?
Of course, rather more than 100 HD DVD playback devices have been sold in Europe to date, but the it's very telling that the European HD DVD PG won't say how many.
"Unfortunately, we aren’t releasing total sales numbers because we feel that it is early days for both formats compared to DVD," a European HD DVD PG spokeswoman told us.
In short, the organisation doesn't want comparisons being drawn with 'old technology' DVD sales, let alone its rival HD format.
Its unwillingness to release hard data leads us to believe that right now the vast majority of European consumers are not interested in HD DVD. They're probably not interested in Blu-ray either, but so big has been the take up of the PS3, in comparison to HD DVD, that it's building momentum. The upcoming cheap, 40GB PS3 will only drive this trend harder.
Register Hardware is bi-partisan - we can see advantages and failings in both formats. But if the European HD DVD Promotional Group really is confident its format will be successful, it should have the courage to come clean on the numbers. That it doesn't, speaks volumes.
You all seem to forget a little thing called 'Region Coding'. It was the one sticking point with DVD's which made quite a few people lots of money to 'region free' your machines until most DVD manufacturers built in a simple remote control hack.
HD-DVD's are, by design, region free. I also happen to have a region free DVD player ('adjusted' Panasonic DVD-R).
So I can buy my daughter 'Ratatouille' which is already out on DVD in the USA and play it on my DVD player here at 480p. I don't think it's finished in the Cinema here in the UK. And although it's rarer now, it still happens quite alot, and I still buy the odd DVD from the USA, or HD-DVD.
However if I had a PS3 or UK Blu-Ray player, I couldn't buy the US Blu-Ray copy of Ratatouille and play it in my player because it won't play. And worse luck if I try to amend or 'hack' the player to do so, it reputedly has the option to brick the player as the player occasionally authorises the playback online and updates encryption keys.
Compare that to the HD-DVD of Shrek 3 which I've also had for a couple of weeks also from the USA, which comes out next week, and plays quite nicely at 720p on my Xbox360's HD-DVD drive (as does the full series of Heroes which I also have on HD-DVD which has been out in the USA for months).
The PS3 is the only saviour of Blu Ray.... it probably is the best one out there at the moment, it has the most frequent updates etc mainly because it's easier to do and it's backed by Sony, the people backing the entire product.
For me HD-DVD is the better bet, due to the fact it has proper standards, from the start...
But we'll see!
So 95% of disc players are PS3s?
Assuming those numbers are correct from that French site that means that almost all of the current high res discs players sales are PS3s.
Something like 95% (bigger than the 93% in order to swing the unit sales firmly in Sony's favour and counter the stand alone unit sales).
Some actual figures
Back in early September, a French site published standalone player sales for UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
Turns out sales since inception through June were...
13,186 HD DVD and 5,469 Blu-ray players!!
No wonder they don't want anybody to see those figures. They are embarrassing!
DVD-9 isn't big enough for high-def - have a look at Disney's recent Pirates of the Caribbean BDs - the AUDIO ALONE weighs in at 6.9Mbps!
Crap film, but that 24bit PCM surround is what I want - and the 1920x1080 H.264 picture is nothing to be sniffed at, either.