Sony claims high def lead as Toshiba targets retailers

High def battle continues as Sony stakes claim to dominant market share

The battle for HD supremacy notched up another gear this week with the Blu-ray camp claiming to have near-domination of local hardware and software sales, while the HD DVD Consortium claims momentum in the high definition market is shifting towards it.

On Wednesday, Sony released a commissioned report from GfK Marketing Services which showed the Blu-ray disc format, in both hardware (incorporating home entertainment Blu-ray players and PlayStation 3 consoles) and software (movie titles), commanded a 95.2 percent market share in Australia.

"Across the key areas of high definition entertainment, these figures show that Blu-ray is distinctly the format of choice for consumers," said Carl Rose, managing director of Sony Australia.

The HD DVD Consortium issued a statement in response. It said that while in early growth phase, HD DVD is experiencing rapid growth based on a wide range of contributing factors.

It also said the GfK market report only contained information based on the month of October. "We have access to other GfK reports showing software percentages on a YTD basis with Blu-ray at 86 percent and HD DVD at 14 percent."

The HD DVD Consortium believes that to measure true hardware sales, PCs that have next-generation DVD -- both Blu-ray and HD DVD, need to also be included.

"In PCs specifically, Toshiba and other manufacturers, including HP, Acer etc., provide the ultimate mobile HD entertainment environment and have shipped more units than PS3 in the last 6 months."

Earlier in the week Sony also announced that it has partnered with movie rental chains Video Ezy and Blockbuster to educate consumers on its high definition home entertainment format.

The partnerships include an increased quantity of Blu-ray films available to customers, in-store displays featuring the PS3, Sony's BDP-S300 Blu-ray players and Bravia high definition TVs, as well as educational content. The stands will be delivered to over 200 stores nationwide.

The general manager, of buying at Video Ezy, Richard Clutsom, said it was selling to demand. "At this stage Blu-ray is clearly the leading HD format and industry data backs that up."

Like the Blu-ray camp, the Toshiba-led HD Consorustim has also been active.

"The Consortium is working to promote HD DVD across all channels, with the current focus being on the retailers where HD DVD has recently been gaining great traction, specifically, JB Hi Fi, Sanity, Virgin and EzyDVD," said Francois Spina, AV product manager for DVD at Toshiba.

"We [the Consortium] are conducting a number of marketing initiatives, such as redemptions, bonus title offers, value hardware, with many plans more plans for the future."

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