Numbers are mixed for 2006 format wars

Posted by Mark Raby

Washington (DC) - The first eight months of the format wars ended in a near stalemate, though the hardware front saw a slim victory for HD DVD, with a new report from NPD Group saying that high-def video players ranked in at 52% for HD DVD and 48% for Blu-ray.

These numbers only count standalone players, and do not include the more widely sold PS3, which has a built-in Blu-ray Disc player, and the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive, which is less than half of other HD DVD players but only runs when it is connected to the Microsoft console or to a PC.

When the additional hardware products are figured in, Blu-ray takes over the top spot, thanks to sales of PS3 units nearing one million for 2006. It is tough to measure how many PS3 owners have a actually used the system for BD movie playback.

Even though the hardware competition leaves some uncertainty, the movie part of the equation belongs to Blu-ray. The Sony-led format accounted for three of every four high-def movies sold in the first couple weeks of January, according to preliminary Nielsen reports.