When Sony’s Blu-ray format killed off Toshiba’s HD DVD format in the the high definition DVD war in February, it was expected that Blu-ray players would see a massive sales increase, as consumers realised the format was a safe long-term bet. However, sales figures show that since the beginning of the year, sales of Blu-ray players have actually dropped quite substantially.
As soon as HD DVD was declared a dead format, Sony went full steam ahead with it’s plans to dominate the future of high definition storage, and predicted a 50% market share with DVD by the end of 2008. However, the NPD Group’s sales figures show that they are a long way off achieving that goal any time soon.
NPD haven’t released actual numbers, presumably for fear hat due to the low numbers of units sold, individual retailers would be identifiable. However, according to the New York Times, it has stated that sales of standalone Blu-ray players fell a massive 40% from January to February. They then rose a paltry 2% from February to March.
HD DVD players obviously did even worse in the same time frame, with sales dropping 13% from January to February, and 65% from February to March, but that was fully expected as only an idiot would buy a player which only plays a dead format.
So why has Blu-ray failed to sell in the expected quantities once it’s only rival, excluding the doomed HD VMD of course, HD DVD was consigned to an early grave?
The main reason is likely to be that the mainstream consumer is still not ready to move on from DVD, and is happy with the picture quality and storage capabilities of the last gen format. I predicted back in February that Blu-ray would have a hard job killing off DVD, and by the time it does, digital downloads will probably be the medium of choice anyway.
It could be that Blu-ray ends up being merely a stopgap for early adopters, and that it never really takes off in the way Sony are hoping it does.
The big test will come this Christmas when prices will drop, and we will be able to see if everyday consumers are choosing to upgrade or not. Personally, I’m happy with my collection of DVDs, and won’t be upgrading until prices drop below the $100 mark, which could be a while.