HD camcorders set to KO their SD brothers in 2007

By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Sony has predicted that high definition camcorders could account for as much as 20 per cent of the sales value of the total camcorder category by the end of the year.

The most recent GfK sales data released by Sony in its fourth quarter 2006 HD Benchmark report reveal HD camcorders accounted for just 7.4 per cent of the $99 million sales for the period or $7.4 million.

However, in an interview with Current.com.au this week, Sony Australia deputy managing director, Carl Rose, said HD models will take a more sizeable chunk of the category in 2007.

“If we had to put a figure for 2007, I think we’ve seen in the last week or so that most major brands are going to have a range of HD camcorders for the first time or are increasing their range, so if it wasn’t 20 per cent value by the end of this year we would be disappointed by that,” said Rose.

Sony has previously predicted that HD models will represent 30 per cent of sales value in the camcorder market by the end of 2008.

Around 3,082 HD camcorders were sold through retailers in the fourth quarter of 2006 – more than in the previous four quarters combined – representing 4.5 per cent of units sold between October and December last year.

Unit sales of HD camcorders grew 505.5 per cent in the 12 months to December 2006, albeit off a small base, while the SD camcorder market grew 15.9 per cent (units).

HD camcorders still demand a significant price premium with an average price more than three times that of SD camcorders, but Sony has vowed to lower the price of its entry-level HD models this year and has already broken through the $2,000-price barrier.

According to Sony’s HD Benchmark, a similar price gap exists for high definition LCD TVs (2.96x) and high definition plasmas (1.86x), but consumers are willing to pay more for HD with 69.4 per cent of all LCDs and 54.6 per cent of plasmas sold in the period classified as HD.

“If we can replicate the HD benefit in camcorders, you would have to be optimistic about the HD share of the camcorder market,” said Rose.

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