Sony Australia claims Blu-ray winning HD format war

By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Sony Australia today claimed that data from the Australian market is signaling a landslide victory for Blu-ray in the format war against Toshiba’s HD DVD.

According to the HD Benchmark survey, commissioned by Sony but compiled by GfK, of the 5,590 high definition software titles sold in Australia during the first quarter, 5,078 were Blu-ray, or 90.8 per cent.

Just 512 HD DVD titles were sold during the quarter, or 9.2 per cent, according to the report.

Blu-ray’s strong showing led Sony Australia representatives to today question the existence of the so-called ‘format war’, which has been compared to the Beta and VHS battle of the 1980s.

The total market value of high definition movie sales reached $201,000 in Q1, which is just 0.1 per cent of the total DVD market which generated $242 million in the same period.

According to Sony Corporation senior general manager – Blu-ray Strategy Group, Akira Shimazu, who visited Australia today for the launch of Sony’s first Blu-ray players locally, the trend is also evident in Europe.

“Last year HD DVD and Blu-ray both had slow sales but after PS3 there was a big spike in Blu-ray sales. Blu-ray sales volume is now 10 times more than last year and has almost two to one sell-through compared to HD DVD,” said Shimazu.

However, GfK’s data runs counter to recent figures from independent online DVD rental company, Quickflix, which suggested consumer interest in HD DVD was surpassing Blu-ray.

Of the DVD rental company’s approximate 17,000 subscribers, 1,030 had rented or made requests of Blu-ray titles, while over 1,900 had done so for HD DVD.

According to Quickflix’s data, HD DVD had also registered a far greater number of title requests, with 4,041 requests made for HD DVD, versus only 1,638 requests for Blu-ray titles. Sony claims that 100 Blu-ray titles have been released in Australia since February.

The highest selling Blu-ray titles were Underworld: Evolution, Talladega Nights and X-Men 3: The Last Stand, while the highest selling HD DVD titles were Rambo: First Blood, Batman Begins and the Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift.

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