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Euro Blu-ray movie sales reach 2.37m discs

Not good news for the HD DVD camp

Blu-ray Disc pre-recorded media sales have sailed past the two-and-a-quarter million mark in Europe, the format's promotional body said this week.

And, according to market watcher GfK, 79 per cent of hi-def discs bought by European consumers thus far this year have been BDs. The remaining 21 per cent were HD DVDs.

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) was most keen to highlight hitting the 2m mark, which was passed two months after the 1m point was reached, it claimed.

In fact, more than 2.37m BDs have been sold in Europe, according to figures from market research company Screen Digest by way of the BDA, which also claimed 3.2m PlayStation 3 consoles and 34,000 standalone BD players have purchased in Europe to date.

Now, the HD DVD Promotional Group this week said its favoured format accounted for more than 60 per cent of standalone player sales up to the end of 2007. Doing a rough, back-of-an-envelope calculation, that means those 34,000 BD players are approximately 40 per cent of the total number of hi-def players sold in Europe, which we calculate therefore to be 85,000 units.

So Europeans own roughly 51,000 HD DVD players.

Yes, the number of BD players is a total reached a month-and-a-half after the averred HD DVD market share was taken, but unless sales of HD DVD players have spiked of late - needless to say, they haven't, or the HD DVD PG would have said so - the sales ratio will be much the same now as then. If anything, we'd expect it to shift in BD's favour, after the Warner announcement that it will support the format exclusively.

Earlier this month, Screen Digest was reported as saying there are 55,000 HD DVD players and Xbox add-on drives in European homes, so we're in the ballpark.

Whatever the exact figure, the point is the number of Blu-ray capable players out there is substantially way beyond the number of HD DVD capable devices. According to GfK, Q4 2007 BD player sales exceeded those of HD DVD machines.

The HD DVD PG said that Q4 had seen a doubling of HD DVD sales, so we're looking at a total of around 25,500 units up to that point. If BD sales were higher than that, even by a small margin, it means that the vast majority of those aforementioned 34,000 BD players were purchased in Q4 - or only 8,500 had been sold up to the end of Q3 2007.

That's a quarter-on-quarter growth rate of roughly 300 per cent cent for BD, compared to 100 per cent for HD DVD. So even ignoring the PS3, there's clearly rising demand for Blu-ray. If these rates are maintained, there'll be more BD players in European homes than HD DVD ones by the end of the current quarter.

Can HD DVD keep up? If it maintains its player price advantage, quite possibly. But if sales of BD players are increasing so much even when they cost twice as much, on average, as HD DVD machines, how would they grow if Sony, Sharp, Samsung and cut their prices as much as Toshiba has?

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