The first sales numbers for the Blu-ray-backed PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on have come in, with encouraging results for high-def.
GameDaily Biz is reporting new data from industry tracking firm The NPD Group, which shows an expected console sales bump of over 69 percent for the year ending in November.
For us high-def enthusiasts, of course, the bigger news is the actual number of Blu-ray-driven PS3s and Xbox HD DVD peripherals sold. NPD reports that the PS3 has sold 197,000 units in the U.S. so far -- a total sellout of all domestic shipments Sony was able to deliver to retailers through November.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's HD DVD add-on for the Xbox has moved 42,000 units since its launch in mid-November (the company has not released total number of units delivered to retailers, preventing any sold-versus-shipped comparisons).
On the surface, this data would seem to indicate that Blu-ray's game console footprint (via the PS3) has a sizable lead over the Xbox/HD DVD combo by a healthy five-to-one margin. But in the add-on camp's favor is that those purchasing the drive are much more likely to be high-def movie watchers -- why buy the HD DVD drive otherwise? The same is not necessarily so for the PS3 -- there is no telling how many of the eager gamers who plunked down over $500 for a new console are actually using it to watch Blu-ray movies.
As far as we're concerned, the real proof will be in the software pudding. Though it is good to finally get some hard PS3/Xbox HD DVD add-on sales numbers, it will be disc sales over the next weeks and months that will paint a far better picture of who's really "winning" the high-def format war.
In any case, this is all encouraging news for high-def in general, as in the space of only a few weeks, we've seen the installed base for Blu-ray and HD DVD jump significantly. And the strong hardware sales should only continue as Sony and Microsoft ship more units of their consoles and add-ons this month and over the next year. Stay tuned!