HD DVD boost re-ignites format war

HD DVD's recent counter-strike against the Blu-ray insurgency is having unexpected results, with strong week three sales figures for January.

NPD Group says HD DVD manage to secure 34.37 per cent of high def player sales in the week ending 19 January, a massive rise of 26.9 per cent over the previous week. That horrendous low of 7.47 per cent in week two was blamed on a sales promotion arranged by Sony and others which saw Blu-ray players being either given away free with the purchase of a new TV, or sold at knockdown prices. Warner Bros' decision to

abandon the HD DVD platform

in favour of Blu-ray also can't have helped.

Even so, HD DVD's revival may be short-lived. The rise during the week ending 19 January is almost certainly the result of deep cuts in the price of HD DVD players, and even then sales only rose to a total of 8,639 units sold. Blu-ray still out-paced it two-to-one with 16,496 sales, says The Register.

It's important to note that these numbers only include standalone player sales - neither the Sony PlayStation 3 nor the external HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 are included. NPD Group has also warned previously that it's dangerous to look at these sales figures in isolation or to extrapolate long-term trends from them - it is only one week's sales data after all. And that could spell both good and bad news for both camps.

How long can Toshiba go on?

You also have to wonder how long Toshiba can sustain this level of subsidy for its players. The company admitted yesterday that it was losing money on its HD DVD business during its Q3 2007 financials. What it didn't explain was how big the losses were. Although the fact that the company now plans to focus on its core businesses of semiconductor manufacturing and nuclear power generation surely tells you something.

Our sister title Home Cinema Choice also says that HD DVD backer Onkyo has no plans to sell any more of its DV-HD805 HD DVD players in the UK - a direct result of the current uncertainty surrounding Blu-ray's recent victories.