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HD DVD players get a sales lift thanks to sub-$100 pricing

The battle in the next generation high-definition DVD format war is far from over. HD DVD and Blu-ray have been fighting it out in the market for roughly a year and neither side shows any signs of giving up the fight.

In late October, DailyTech reported that Blu-ray disc sales held a commanding lead over HD DVD for the first nine months of 2007. Blu-ray outsold HD DVD by a 2-to-1 ratio racking up sales of 2.6 million units versus 1.4 million units for HD DVD.

Since the inception of both standards, a total of 3.01 million Blu-ray discs and 1.97 million HD DVD discs have been sold.

Toshiba, the main backer for HD DVD, decided to turn the tables a bit in order to swing the sales momentum back in its direction. One by one, retailers started dropping the price of the second generation Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player. Wal-Mart dropped the price of the player from $299.99 to $198 in late October. Circuit City and Amazon both followed suit pricing the player at $197.99.

On November 1, DailyTech brought you news of Wal-Mart's secret in-store sale which listed the price of the HD-A2 at an unheard of $98.87. Soon after, Best Buy countered by pricing the player at $99.99. Sales of the player were so furious at BestBuy.com that the stock was depleted leaving backorders to be fulfilled with the third-generation HD-A3 at no additional charge.

It appears that Toshiba efforts to drive down the price of entry for HD DVD paid off. Video Business reports that 90,000 Toshiba HD DVD players were sold over the weekend thanks to the price drops.

For comparison, Sony has sold 100,000 of its $499 BDP-S300 set top player since its introduction during the summer.

Despite the weekend surge in HD DVD player sales, Sony can still claim the largest install base with its Blu-ray hardware. Since its introduction in November 2006, Sony had shipped over 5.51 million PlayStation 3 consoles -- each of which features a Blu-ray drive.



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Chumming the water
By DesertCat on 11/7/2007 11:17:33 AM , Rating: 4
The whole episode had a feel like chumming the waters. Yes, I was one of the people that got a $98 HD-A2 at Walmart. I had been content to sit on the sidelines of the HD war, but the sale was just too tempting.

What's interesting to me is that once the feeding frenzy got going, it had momentum. When the A2s were snatched up from Walmart shelves, people started looking and ended up at BB, Amazon, and Crutchfield just to name a few. When A2s started getting scarce, many people switched over to grabbing A3s for twice the price (although still a good deal and with an admittedly good movie bundle).

The question mark to me is whether there are still enough A2s in distribution channels to do this again. It's pretty obvious that local stocks of A2s got depleted in some areas (and BB appears to be out entirely), but maybe things can be re-distributed from places that still have a supply? There are rumors (and I emphasize the rumor part) that Walmart made a big purchase of A2s back in April. The fact that most of the players purchased during this first weekend have manufacturing dates of January-March tends to lend some support (based on a thread at avsforum.com )

Anyway, kind of fun to watch and fun to be a part of this wave. The big question for everyone is "attach rates". It's not enough just to have players out there. People need to buy and rent movies in the format.




RE: Chumming the water
By blaster5k on 11/7/2007 11:45:46 AM , Rating: 2
The sales made for some really great deals. I finally took the plunge too and got an HD-A3 at Best Buy for $199 plus three free movies (ten total). I'd been hesitant to get a hi-def player when the prices were high and especially with competing formats, but with HD-DVD prices this low, it's hard to pass up -- and it's less money to gamble than with Blu-Ray.


RE: Chumming the water
By PitViper007 on 11/7/2007 9:33:24 PM , Rating: 2
If what happened at BB is any indication, I'd say that there AREN'T many A2's left at all. I can't see them of all chains subbing a newer (and more expensive) model for an older one that's on backorder if they were expecting to get any more in. Actually, given BB's track record, I'm (pleasantly) surprised that they decided to sub in the A3. Normally, they would have just canceled the orders if they couldn't fill the backorders.


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