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Friday, February 15, 2008
Blu-ray Disc Sales Reach 2 million in Europe - HD DVD Going the Way of Betamax?

Total Blu-ray Disc movie sales across Europe have reached over two million units announced the Blu-ray Disc Association European Promotions Committee at a press reception in London this week.

The most recent figures show Blu-ray Disc movie sales totaled 2.37 million, which means that 79% of the High Definition movie discs bought by consumers year-to-date across Europe were in the Blu-ray Disc format compared with 21% in the HD DVD format, according to sales data provided by Media Control Gfk International.

The news of the two million milestone comes within two months of the announcement of one million unit sales, which was achieved in early November last year.

A graphic illustration of Blu-ray Disc?s rapid establishment comes through direct comparison of its performance with that of the DVD-Video format at a comparable stage in its development. DVD-Video was first introduced into Western Europe in 1997, and the following year some 230,000 DVD players were installed and 2.0 million discs were sold through. In comparison, Blu-ray Disc made its first tentative launch in Western Europe in 2006, and the following year some 3.2 million PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3) consoles and 34,000 standalone players were installed while 2.3 million Blu-ray Discs sold through according to data from Screen Digest.

Sales up to Christmas were strong with over half a million Blu-ray movie discs sold in December, outselling HD-DVD by 3:1 with a 75% market share, BDA claims. The biggest Christmas release was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World?s End with sales of nearly 100,000 units. This was joined by impressive sales for Simpsons: The Movie and Casino Royale.

"News from Warner Bros at CES last month caught the headlines but what this news proves is that the tipping point in the format war in Europe happened several months prior to CES and the tide has been running strongly in favour of Blu-ray Disc for many months," commented Frank Simonis, Chairman of the BDA European Promotions Committee. "Our challenge now is to move Blu-ray Disc into the mainstream. As a format, Blu-ray Disc is proving more attractive then even DVD-Video at the same time in its development."

The news are definitely bad for Toshiba's HD-DVD format, which seems to go the way of Betamax. Although no official decision has been made, Toshiba may pull the plug on its HD DVD format in the coming weeks, according to reports, after a rash of retail defections that followed Warner Home Video's stunning announcement in early January that it would support only Sony's rival Blu-ray Disc format after May.

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