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Blu-ray backers highlight rising demand

Player shortages, consumer fears exaggerated, it's claimed

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The Blu-ray Disc Alliance (BDA) has pooh-pooh'd claims that demand for the format is slowing under the recessionary pressures. It even forecast "Blu-ray will enter the mainstream" in Q1 2009.

Still, it's circumspect about releasing real numbers. The best it offered this week was the news that Brits bought 462,500 BDs in November, up 165 per cent from the 280,300 purchased in October and 251 per cent on July's 184,263 disc sales total.

Quoting market watcher GfK, the BDA said BD player sales are up 425 per cent between April and October, though it neglected to say how many units sold. A 425 per cent increase sounds good, but not if you only sold a handful of machines in the first place.

Incidentally, the numbers almost certainly don't include PlayStation 3 shipments, which would dwarf those of standalone players and thus mask such a large April-October increase.

The increase was the highest in Europe, the BDA said, quoting GfK, putting growth in UK BD player sales ahead of Germany (242 per cent), the Netherlands (197 per cent) and Italy (165 per cent).

These numbers, the organisation claimed, "contradict rumours of shortages of Blu-ray players in Europe and [of] diminishing consumer interest in the new home entertainment platform in the face of the economic downturn".

Maybe, but it's worth noting that these figures apply to a period before consumers really started to worry about the state of the economy. Conversely, they come before the inevitable big increase pre-Christmas sales activity, possibly to be boosted by the VAT reduction and plunging interest rates.

"We see the upwards sales trend increasing into the New Year and beyond," said BDA Europe boss Frank Simonis. "Blu-ray will enter the mainstream this quarter.”

Last month, market watcher Screen Digest said the recession would steer mainstream consumers away from BD player purchases, while early adopters, who are keen on buying into the format, will be hindered by shortages of cheaper machines.

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