updated 12:10 pm EST, Mon January 28, 2008
Woolworths Drops HD DVD
British store chain Woolworths today revealed that it will switch exclusively to selling Blu-ray for its movie discs, becoming the first large-scale retailer to drop HD DVD entirely from its shelves. The decision comes after holiday sales where Blu-ray titles outsold HD DVD by a factor of ten to one at the UK chain and is credited largely to the Sony PlayStation 3, which Woolworths says gives Blu-ray a major advantage in terms of a viewer base. As many as 750,000 homes in the country own at least one device that can play the discs, far eclipsing the statistics for HD DVD, according to the retailer's estimates.
The change takes effect in March and will see all of Woolworth's 820 stores offer at least the top-ranked Blu-ray titles in their stores. Larger outlets are also expected to carry a significant number of extra titles. No American retailers already carrying HD DVD have said they would drop the format themselves, though some chains have said they would shift towards Blu-ray or start offering HD movies solely in that standard after Warner Bros. announced that it would switch to offering movies solely in Blu-ray versions by June.
The HD DVD Promotional Group has already responded to the move and says that it is "disappointed" with Woolworths but denies that the loss of such a major outlet will affect its chances at gaining marketshare. The Promotional Group claims 60 percent of the HD movie market in the UK and a higher attach rate of movies to players but now and in the past has consciously excluded PlayStation 3 sales from its figures. Previously, the organization has claimed Sony's device does not count as it primarily serves as a game system.
Many PC makers outside of Sony and Toshiba, both of whom helped create Blu-ray and HD DVD respectively, are known to be waiting for decisions such as these to help guide their own choices of standards. Many companies have either chosen to withhold drive support entirely (as with Apple) or else have carried the choice of both formats, as with HP's newest systems.