Blu-ray Disc Sales Soar

Despite the poor economy, one product did particularly well this holiday season: the Blu-ray Disc. Recent figures indicate a tripling of sales from the previous year.

It’s been quite the year for Blu-ray. If you’ll recall, Warner Brothers withdrew its support for Blu-ray’s competitor, HD-DVD, just before CES last year. Just a few months after that, Toshiba (the creator of HD-DVD) threw in the towel and said it would stop making players for the discs. Given that Blu-ray is the winner of the high-definition disc race, consumers are beginning to jump onboard.

Panasonic DMP-B15-PIn the fourth quarter of last year, consumers bought 28.6 million Blu-ray discs, up from 9.5 million in the previous year. The top seller was The Dark Knight, which became the first Blu-ray disc to sell more than a million copies.

Andy Parsons, president of the Blu-ray Disc Association, recently indicated Blu-ray is being adopted faster than the DVD, the CD, HDTVs, and other common household technologies. In the two and a half years since Blu-ray players became available, 10.7 million players have been sold in the U.S. according to research firm DisplaySearch. By comparison, there were 5.4 million DVD players in the U.S. three years after launch in the 90s.

Part of the reason for the quick adoption of Blu-ray is due to the popularity of Sony’s PlayStation 3 gaming console, which includes a Blu-ray player. Of the 10.7 million Blu-ray players previously mentioned, more than 6 million are PlayStation 3 consoles. If you exclude the PlayStation 3 from comparison, sales of standalone Blu-ray players are similar to those of DVD players at the same point.

Industry support is definitely growing for this budding player: There were 18 new Blu-ray players announced at this year’s CES. Two products of note are Sharp’s new HDTV with a built-in Blu-ray player and Panasonic’s announcement of the first portable Blu-ray player, the DMP-B15-P. Of the 18 new players, 11 of them have the BD-Live feature, which lets you connect the player to the Internet for interactive features such as games, downloadable trailers, and chats with filmmakers.

Considering about 40 million households have HDTVs, Blu-ray sales have plenty of room to grow. Will 2009 be the year you become a Blu-ray adopter?