PS3 and Blu-ray have its day, HD DVD cops the spray

By Craig Zammit

LAS VEGAS: Sony Computer Entertainment has been dancing up a Blu-ray storm at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, proclaiming its victory over the HD DVD format by successfully shipping one million PlayStation3 (PS3) consoles to the USA, therefore placing Blu-ray players into a million homes.

Sony Computer Entertainment America, senior vice president – marketing, Peter Dille, dubbed the PS3 as ‘the darling of the holiday season’ for achieving its one millionth PS3 sale, with competing HD DVD backer, Toshiba, forced to sit back and watch the victory dance unfold.

Toshiba sold only 60,000 HD DVD players in 2006, a figure which is alarmingly short of the one million Blu-ray players shipped with Sony’s trojan-horse PlaySation3 gaming console.

However, a survey recently undertaken by independent market influence analytics company, Cymfony, revealed consumers were not happy with Sony’s force-feeding of the Blu-ray format through the PS3 console.

Indeed, the Microsoft and Toshiba-backed HD DVD format was clearly the preferred format by consumers participating in the survey, with Sony described as ‘arrogant’ by many surveyed.

“Sony’s plan to jumpstart Blu-ray adoption by building it into the PS3 was rejected by a significant segment of this audience,” the report stated.

“Users disparage Sony’s decision to build the Blu-ray player into the PS3 and praise Microsoft for offering the HD-DVD player as an accessory to the Xbox 360.”
The mention of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming console sheds light on another fact which Sony may be attempting to sweep under the format war victory rug.

Across the Christmas period in the USA, the PS3 console failed to compete with its console competition – Microsoft and Nintendo.

According to the Associated Press, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 sold approximately two million units over the Christmas period, while the Wii sold 1.8 million units – the PS3 registered only 750,000 sales. The one million PS3 mark was crossed in the last week of 2006.

If the $999 PS3 loses the gaming console battle, there is no doubt Blu-ray will suffer, and with HD-DVD cheaper and easier to manufacture, there is still hope for those in the HD-DVD camp.
Toshiba corporate senior vice president, Yoshihide Fujii, spoke to Reuters and revealed a different story than the 60,000 HD DVD sales.

According to the Reuters report, Toshiba estimates HD DVD player and recorder sales — after a full 12 months of sales ending on 31 March 2007 —  at “a little less than 500,000".

When HD DVD was launched in March 2006, Reuters claimed Toshiba aimed to sell approximately 600,000 to 700,000 players in the 12-month period ending 31 March 2007.

Fujii expressed his expectations for HD-DVD sales to be hitting three million globally by the next Japanese financial year.

Whether or not Toshiba’s HD DVD format can survive the Blu-ray wave that’s been created by the splash of the PS3 remains to be seen, but if Sony is to be believed, HD DVD is already sunk.

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