More than half a year on from the demise of HD DVD and the so-called format wars, it's clearly time to take the temperature of the market's desire for the victorious Blu-ray alternative and determine where punters are putting their money.

For the most advanced figures we need to look to Japan, where the latest data for sales of Blu-ray recorders (i.e. no PS3 and other players) show an astonishing decline for early pacesetter Sony.

Three-horse race

From a peak of 66 per cent of sales in January, Sony's machines now account for just 33.6 per cent of the BD recorder market. That still puts it in first place, but a pair of rivals is breathing down its neck.

Right behind, on 32.8 per cent, comes Sharp, with Panasonic just a fraction further back, on 32.1 per cent of total sales in July.

In terms of the total market for disk recorders, BD snared 40 per cent, with the remainder going to DVD recorders. The total value of the disk-recorder hardware market had been growing by over 30 per cent compared to last year for the early summer months.

Heat stops growth

However, a heat wave that has seen record numbers of people hospitalised for heat stroke led to a slowdown in sales for DVD and Blu-ray hardware in July as shoppers switched their cash to buy new air conditioners.

Which just goes to show that some things – such as staying alive in Japan's 40º summer - are actually more important than being on the cutting-edge of consumer technology.