Focusing on Europe, the The Blu-Ray camp expects a significant boost in the sales of the Blu-Ray movie titles with the availability of the Sony PS3 entertainment console next week in Europe. Sony said it had sold 1.84 million PS3s by the end of December in Japan and North America and that one million PS3s are ready for launch next week in Europe.
Any difference between regional sales may be explained by the fact that European consumers cannot yet buy PS3s and there are only two Blu-ray players available, Simonis said.
A total of 5.2 million Blu-ray discs have already been sold, said Nick Sharples at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Hundreds of thousands of titles have been given away to consumers buying a PS3.
Film studio 20th Century Fox, which supports Blu-ray, said weekly Blu-ray film sales are actually three times higher than HD DVD.
The Blu-ray group also announced that it will be shipping 4x BD-R discs in the following weeks. These discs will be able to deliver a sustained data write rate of 144 Mb/s (4x), compared to the current 72 Mb/s (2x). Media and burners/recorders that support 4x speed are expected to become available during Q2 of this year.
HD DVD at CeBIT
The HD DVD camp conceded it is being outsold by Blu-ray because of PS3 by at least five to one, but it claims that sales of movie titles are still level.
The HD DVD promotional group, in a separate presentation, said consumers should not only focus on the big blockbuster titles from Hollywood, but also those from regional film houses in Europe and Asia which would bring many titles to HD DVD because it was cheaper and simpler.
Furthenmore, the HD DVD representatives announced that by the end of Q1 2007, more than 100 HD DVD titles will be available throughout Europe.
More than one-third of these titles come from European studios and none of them are currently available on any other high-definition format. The overwhelming majority of the discs are replicated locally.
"Our goal is to achieve global penetration of the HD DVD format, so a lot of work has gone into making sure that authoring houses and replicators across Europe were given the training and expertise they need to get up and running quickly allowing a wealth of European content to hit the market right from the beginning," said Yoshihide Fujii, Chairman of the HD DVD Promotion Group and President and CEO of Toshiba's Digital Media Network Company.
"This will be a key differentiator for HD DVD in Europe for the foreseeable future. Combine that with a solid line-up of US titles and affordable hardware and consumers have a lot of options to create a home theater experience that is unparalleled."
In an effort to futher promote the HD DVD format in Europe, Studio Canal, Universal, Toshiba and Microsoft were on stage at CeBIT to announce the formation of a new trade organization, the European HD DVD Promotional Group, Ltd., which will include movie studios, distributors, consumer electronics companies, IT companies, PC makers, disc replication companies and authoring houses companies throughout Europe and around the globe.
"After a strong year in North America and Asia, HD DVD is drawing attention in Europe, with unrivaled quality and affordable prices," said Ken Graffeo, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
The existing marketing campaign, which showcases HD DVD as "The Look and Sound of Perfect" will be used to highlight European perspectives, with the launch of country-specific pages to the www.hddvdeurope.com website. The group and its member companies plan to back the campaign with promotions, and trade and consumer marketing through the 2007 Holiday season and into 2008.
In addition, Toshiba announced a new HD DVD player for the European market. The HD-EP10 supports 1080p playback and will be available in Europe in May at an estimated price of €699.