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BD grabs 73% of Europe HD market – courtesy of PS3

Blu-ray Disc format supporters have not waited the anticipated Black Friday HD DVD player sales victory data in the US to claim that, in Europe, BD discs grabbed nearly three-quarter of the hidef DVD maket.

Citing data from Media Control GfK International, the Blu-ray Disc Association European Promotions Committee boosted sales of Blu-ray disc topping one million units over the past 12 months, accounting for a 73% share of the high-definition disc market in Europe against 27% for the competing HD DVD format.

“This is an important milestone for Blu-ray Disc in Europe and proves once again that whenever consumers have the choice they decide overwhelmingly in favour of BD,” says Frank Simonis, Committee Chairman. “Early indicators show that the Christmas holiday season will be exceptionally good for Blu-ray Disc across all categories from packaged media to standalone players and BD capable games consoles.”

BD movie sales experienced their highest weekly sales since the inception of the format, in week 44, topping 66,000 units. This is due to the launch of new release titles such as 300, Spider-Man 3, Die Hard 4 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

The one million movie unit accounts for just under 5% of total 21 million BD games sold, the Blu-ray Disc Association reports. “The so-called ‘PlayStation effect’ is important since it is creating major economies of scale and makes BD disc replication cost effective” says Simonis.

Some analysts caution against making too much of the data at such an early stage in the game. This one million discs were virtually all purchased by PlayStation 3 owners. In Europe, standalone high-definition DVD players still have little visibility on the shelves of the major retail chains who prefer to promote massively HD screens and lower-cost DVD players with up-converting capability. Blu-ray settop players are yet to appear in some numbers and HD DVD players, benefiting from an earlier start, are making inroads slowly.

Whether a disc is bought for a standalone player or a game console matters. Last month, citing the same Media Control GFK International, the HD DVD Promotion Group said that European customers have bought 3.8 movies with each HD DVD player sold whereas every owner of a (BD-capable) PlayStation 3 has acquired only 0.6 movies. And analysts suggest that, with greater numbers of more attractive game titles coming onto the pipeline, PS3 consoles will be used for watching BD movies even less.

In the United States, where HD DVD player sales top 750,000 units, following Black Friday low-cost push – and could hit the 1-million mark by the end of the year – sales numbers of Blu-ray and HD DVD disc units are said to be fairly even, though the PS3 installed base is nearly five time bigger.

Those analysts suggest that, when sales of standalone players in Europe will be in full swing, with HD DVD machines underpricing Blu-ray players (if the same US pricing strategy is adopted), sales data of both hi-def formats could even out.

Story filed 03.12.07

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