It just seems to never end in the “one-upmanship” going on between the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps. The latest from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment via the IFA Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin is that Sony is nearing the one million mark for Blu-ray discs sold in North America. In Europe, where HD DVD is a more popular medium, Blu-ray is lagging behind at only 250,000 Blu-ray discs sold.
The numbers that were released are only relevant for Sony’s own titles and do not include other studios. Sony went on to forecast strong Blu-ray sales for this holiday season with many big titles to be released on Blu-ray, including all three “Spider-Man” movies as well as Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Sony also went on to state that the most popular title to be released on Blu-ray from the Sony catalog so far is the latest James Bond thriller, “Casino Royale.”
While Sony isn’t saying it publicly, they expect this holiday season to be a make or break for both high definition DVD formats due to the announcement by Wal-Mart that it will be offering the Venturer SHD7000 HD DVD player for US$199. While the SHD7000 will not include the five free mail-in HD DVD movie offer, it will be made in China and will also be the first HD player to reach the magical US$199 price point of less than US$200. It is unknown how many SHD7000 units Wal-Mart will receive before the holiday season or how many total units Wal-Mart has ordered. This will put tremendous additional pressure on Blu-ray sales for the holiday season; and it seems unlikely that Blu-ray will be able to respond with a US$199 Blu-ray player of its own for this holiday season.
The announcement of the $199 player and big title deals with both DreamWorks and Paramount have placed the HD DVD camp in a good position moving forward, but Blu-ray continues to counter that they have an edge on the “A” titles for this holiday season, including “Spider-Man 3,” “Pirates of the Caribbean 3” and “Ratatouille.” HD DVD will counter with the biggest title being the Paramount exclusive of “Transformers,” which will be offered in a special edition red colored HD DVD case.
Many consumers are looking for the price of the combo players to drop in price. Those waiting for these combo players to drop, however, may have a long wait. According to information that we have seen the cost of a combo player is still too high when compared to the magically priced US$199 HD DVD player. At $199, the HD DVD camp is confident that many will jump at that price, while it is clear that the Blu-ray camp will focus on their US$399 player and the Playstation 3 as their best options to capture more market share this holiday season.
Read the Venturer $199 HD DVD release here.