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HD DVD sales still solid despite format's failure

Decent US sales showing

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Toshiba may have canned production of HD DVD hardware, but that didn't stop US consumers buying into the format last month, new market stats reveal.

According to US market watcher Redhill, 81 per cent of the next-generation optical disc players bought by Americans were Blu-ray Disc machines. That means 19 per cent of them used the rival format.

A sign that folk were buying cheap DVD upscalers - an application Toshiba began highlighting towards the end - or taking advantage of the post-termination HD DVD firesale?

Well, during the first three months of 2008, some 4.9m next-gen discs were sold, 3.8m of which - 77.6 per cent - were BDs, the rest HD DVD. That imbalance between the two formats' hardware and software sales, suggests a fair few folk took advantage of lower prices to build a quick HD DVD collection.

Toshiba announced its decision to abandon HD DVD in February

The quarter accounted for half of the total sales of pre-recorded HD media to date - 9.8m discs overall.

Newsagency Reuters quotes Bernstein Research analyst Michael Nathanson, who claimed Blu-ray's adoption rate is lagging well behind that of DVD. At the end of 2007, he said, Americans had acquired 3.5m BD players and owned, on average, three BDs each. That compares to 30 DVDs at a similar stage in the growth of the older format, he claimed.

True, but at that stage, HD DVD was still riding strong on the back of deep player price cuts. The format war was raging, and Warner Home Video had yet to make its decisive role in the death of HD DVD: all-out support for Blu-ray.

Redhill's sales figures for March suggest that HD DVD hasn't yet died the death, so we await April's figures with anticipation. Will HD DVD continue to sell, and if not - confirming the end of the format war - will Blu-ray growth have accelerated toward erstwhile DVD adoption rates?

Or are punters happy with DVD - especially while BD prices remain high?

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