Sales indicate consumers aren't ready for Blu-ray yet

The consumer market was very happy to switch from VHS to DVD, but it appears that the transition to high-definition media isn’t being met with the same enthusiasm.

Any stunted growth of the high-definition generation was previously attributed to the ongoing format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. But with the format war over and Blu-ray Disc victorious, customers no longer face such a buyer’s barrier.

To the dismay of the Blu-ray Disc industry, acceptance and adoption of the latest in high-definition movie delivery is barely lukewarm. Most expected that the surrender of HD DVD would trigger a surge for Blu-ray Disc, but instead, sales of Blu-ray Disc hardware fell 40 percent from January to February, NPD Group reported.

The lull in sales didn’t improve much at all, rising only 2 percent from February to March. NPD declined to release specific sales numbers “for fear that it would be easy to identify individual retailers,” according to a New York Times blog. Actual figures are to be released later this year.

Cost is likely a top factor in the slow adoption of Blu-ray Disc, as even the cheapest player is hundreds more than an upscaling DVD machine. In other reasons, consumers may not immediately see the benefits of upgrading to Blu-ray Disc, which mainly provides increased quality of picture and sound. Features such as chapter skip, multiple language tracks and lack of rewinding tape are already present on DVD.

“When we surveyed consumers late last year, an overwhelming number of them said they weren't investing in a new next-generation player because their old DVD player worked well and next-generation players were too expensive,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD. “It's clear from retail sales that those consumer sentiments are still holding true.”

While sales of Blu-ray Disc players may be stagnant, PlayStation 3 consoles are moving at a decent rate. According to the AP, ABI Research estimates that PS3s make up more than 85 percent of Blu-ray players in use this year and that the number of stand-alone players and Blu-ray-equipped PCs won't surpass Sony’s console base until 2013.

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