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Co-existence of competing hi-def formats forecast

Black Friday supersales have been good for Toshiba-backed next-generation disc format. HD DVD players accounted for 62 percent of all standalone high-definition player sales during Thanksgiving week, which included Black Friday, according to the research firm DisplaySearch, reported by Video Business.

Competing Blu-ray hardware captured only about 37 percent of overall standalone player sales during the week. The remaining one percent were dual-format players.

DisplaySearch estimates that HD DVD unit sales jumped 454 percent during Thanksgiving week, compared to the previous week. Blu-ray standalone unit sales rose 189 percent for the week.

In a highly price-sensitive US market, Toshiba's entry-level $200 HD DVD player was bound to forge ahead. The cheapest standalone Blu-ray player retails for $499.

Not included in the Blu-ray sales figues are the 160,000 PlayStation 3 (BD-capable) consoles, DisplaySearch reckons sold during the week.

The market inroads made by both HD DVD and Blu-ray point to a co-existence of the two formats for the foreseeable future. This was indeed the message from Screen Media Digest and Adams Media Research at a recent industry conference in Los Angeles.

Both research firms said Blu-ray and HD DVD discs will be around for many years to come and that both formats will sell roughly the same number of discs over the next several years.

“By 2012, US high-def software will be evenly split between the two formats, where Blu-ray represents 55 percent of the market and HD DVD represents 45 percent," said Screen Digest's Helen Davis Jayalath, quoted in the Video Business report.

Adams Media Research said Blu-ray and HD DVD disc revenues will both be around $5 billion by 2012, compared to $10 billion for standard DVDs.

Despite the big week for HD DVD standalone players, neither format is threatening the dominance of the standard-definition DVD player. During Thanksgiving week, 57,000 standalone high-def DVD players were sold, compared to 600,000 standard-def DVD players. Turned off by the format war, many consumers may instead buy 'upconverting' DVD players that will improve the image on standard-def DVDs, say analysts quoted by Video Business.

Story filed 10.12.07

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