In dueling CES press conferences Sunday, representatives for both HD DVD and Blu-ray used 2006 sales numbers to claim early victory in the high-def format wars.
For Blu-ray backer Sony, this meant emphasizing the one million PlayStation 3 units unleashed on the market in the fourth quarter of 2006. Since each PS3 comes equipped with a Blu-ray drive, Sony's clear victory was in extending Blu-ray's installed base far beyond that of rival format HD DVD, whose supporters announced at their own press conference an installed base of just 175,000 players sold.
But the HD DVD camp had its own story to tell, emphasizing their format's high attach rates (which they annualize at 28 discs per player), while implying that most PS3 owners had yet to actually buy a single Blu-ray movie disc. HD DVD backers went so far as to differentiate buyer intent between the two competing game console high-def playback solutions, including this statement in their CES press release: "With the knowledge that every Xbox 360 HD DVD player sold is purchased by someone who wants to watch high definition movies, studios supporting HD DVD see significant value in the player, as a great way to bring "The Look and Sound of Perfect" to gamers while helping ensure strong movie attach rates for each and every player sold."
Without publicly available (and independently reported) overall high-def disc sales for either HD DVD or Blu-ray, there's no way of officially telling which format might be benefiting most from their stated advantage, although Blu-ray backing studio Fox said this morning in a new press release (look for a separate story on that topic shortly) that Blu-ray disc sales surpassed HD DVD for the first time the week of December 24 -- by a healthy 20%. The studio also cited internal research indicating a growing sales gap that would see Blu-ray outselling HD DVD by a 3.5-to-1 ratio by the end of March this year.
Perhaps the Blu-ray camp's planned CES press conference late Monday afternoon will shed some more light on this subject. Stay tuned...