Hi-def optical discs on the last major weekend

Following up on this post, I checked today’s flyers–noteworthy in that this is the last “serious” set of flyers (anybody shopping for gifts next Sunday is in full panic mode, and it’s unlikely that $500-$1,000 hi-def players will enter in).

Unlike the last report, there were no PSP3 ads (presumably because there are no PSP3s to be found; I wonder whe the other half-million promised for 2006 will arrive?), so no ads for the cheapest available Blu-ray drives.

But there were also no ads for the XBox 360 HD-DVD add-on, and that surprises me, given that such ads did appear, once in a while, over the last month or so. I continue to wonder just how available that relatively cheap upgrade actually is.

As for set-top boxes, the numbers are precisely the same as five weeks ago (after some weeks of fewer ads in general): Four chains advertising at least one Blu-ray player (mostly the new $999 Sony player). Zero chains advertising any HD-DVD player.

Elsewhere, there appear to be at least four brands of Blu-ray burners on the market…and, as before zero HD-DVD burners.

The conclusion is the same as before, but more so: Whatever lead Toshiba might have had (with HD-DVD appearing months before Blu-ray), it’s squandered that lead by failing to market persistently. If either format has any chance (still an open question), I think the odds are now solidly on Blu-ray’s side. It’s not over yet, but my mind’s eye sees turkey vultures circling over the HD DVD camp. (Which is actually quite a graceful sight as long as you’re not the one they’re over!)

One other surprising factoid: when I was in Target a week ago, passing by the DVD/CD section (as in, “What really killed Tower?”) I noticed a narrow section with Blu-ray DVDs on one panel, HD DVDs on the second panel, and a “hi-def” marketing thing connecting them. The sections were wall displays, only one or two discs wide, so limited selection really wasn’t an issue–but I was surprised to see the discs in Target at all, at least at this point. They weren’t there three weeks ago…

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