Las Vegas (NV) – Late last week at CES, Andy Parsons, president of the Blu-ray Disc Association announced that 2008 was a banner year for Blu-Ray sales. Surpassing the adoption rate of DVDs, CDs and HDTVs (as well as several other common household technologies), Blu-Ray sales topped 28.6 million in the 4th quarter alone (up from 9.5 million a year earlier). Top seller was Dark Knight.
In 2008 there were 10.7 million Blu-ray capable players in the United States, including 6 million Sony PlayStation 3 units. In the same three-year timeframe after release, DVD players in the 1990s totaled only 5.4 million. If Sony PS3s are excluded, the number of Blu-ray stand-alone players sits at 4.7 million, though 40 million homes have HDTVs meaning there is already much room for growth.
There were 18 new Blu-ray players announced at this year’s CES. Sharp had an HDTV with a built-in Blu-ray player, and Panasonic announced the world’s first portable player (the DMP-B15-P). Eleven of the new players have BD-Live, which lets the player connect to the Internet for interactive features like gaming, movie trailers and even chats with filmmakers.
Blu-ray sales still account for a small percentage of new movie sales. In 2008, Americans spent $21.6 billion on DVDs and $750 million on Blu-ray discs (3.5% relative).
UPDATED: January 14, 2009 – 9:38am CSTIn related news, Microsoft reaffirmed late last week in a Q&A session that Blu-ray is not a requested feature in Xbox 360. As such, the popular player will not be playing Blu-ray anytime soon (if ever). Microsoft’s president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, Robbie Bach said in the Q&A interview:
Q: It’s been a year now since Blu-ray won the next-generation DVD format wars. When are you guys going to drop the “digital download” line and say, “Let’s just put the technology in the Xbox.”
Bach: We have no plan to do that.
Q: Why not?
Bach: A lot of reasons. It’s not a feature we get a ton of requests for. We really don’t. When you ask people the list of things they want to see us spending time creating in Xbox, Blu-ray is way, way down on the list.
The second thing is, from a technical perspective, it doesn’t help us in the core of what Xbox does, which is in gaming. We can’t have publishers produce games on Blu-ray disc. Because then they won’t play on the 28 million Xboxes we’ve already shipped. So it doesn’t help us in the core gaming space.
The third thing, and this maps to all three of those, is that it costs a lot of money. And so the scenario is, OK, let me get this straight: I’m going to add something to the product that’s going to raise the cost, which means the price goes up, consumers aren’t asking for it, and by the way, my game developers can’t use it.
Oh, and by the way, I have an even better way for you to get high-definition content straight to your TV, between the combination of what we’re doing with Netflix, what we’re doing with (video on demand), we have a great Xbox Live solution. In a way it’s a little bit of a technology looking for an answer. We just have no plans in that space.