Blu-ray sales boom, as hardware prices fall

Chris Forrester

January-March saw record sales on Blu-ray discs in the US. This is not that surprising given the low sales at the same time in 2008, but there’s now little doubt that the new packaged format is settling in, and helped by lower-priced Blu-ray players coming onto the market.

Some 9m Blu-ray discs were sold in the US in the Jan-March period (4.8m in 2008). Adams Media Research says there are now 10.5m US households with Blu-ray players (although this includes PlayStation 3 consoles). The Adams Media data is backed up by a similarly buoyant report from NPD Group and its reassuring news on Blu-ray’s status. According to NPD’s study, within the past 90 days, 51% of survey respondents had purchased either a DVD or a Blu-Ray disc. Also, NPD says that spending on home entertainment-related products has not dropped significantly since last year overall. adds fuel to the feel-good factor, saying that Chinese manufacturers, famous for bargain-basement prices, are beginning to enter the market with some very aggressively priced models. Samsung (of South Korea) has started licensing patents to China, which could lead to $99 (at retail) units being available in the stores this year.

Futuresource Consulting, in its report on the state of the Blu-ray market last week, added: “In last year’s crucial Q4 period, three million BD players were shipped globally, which represented more than 50% of the total for the year. And the trend is continuing, with our projections showing shipments for Q1 2009 will reach 1.2 million units, significantly up on Q1 2008.”

All eyes will be on Q4 this year, with Futuresource predicting shipments in excess of six million units in that quarter alone, a healthy year-on-year growth that will successfully propel BD into the next decade.

“Sales of HD-capable LCD and plasma TVs, and continued dramatic reductions in BD player prices also continue to fuel interest,” Jack Wetherill, research consultant at Futuresource, says: “In the last quarter of 2008, average retail prices for standalone Blu-ray players fell by 15% in most major markets and we’re going to see them fall by another 25% during the course of this year. Add to that the raft of movie titles being issued on Blu-ray – over 1,100 at the end of last year, on track to more than double this year – coupled with the increase in promotional activity and the continued benefit of growing PS3 ownership, and we’ll see Blu-ray continue to gather momentum in all major markets across the globe.”