Analyst revises 2008 Blu-ray sales downward by 25%

Due to the stinging blows dealt by the economy these days, some analysts are now predicting bleak sales, both for the holiday season and 2008 as a whole, for Blu-ray players and many other CE products in the not-so-cheap category.

Back in about the second quarter of this year, Parks Associates predicted that Blu-ray player unit sales, not including Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles, would total about 5 million globally this year, up from about 800,000 Blu-ray players and 800,000 players for Toshiba's competing HD DVD format sold in 2007.

Parks also forecast that annual Blu-ray player unit sales would jump eightfold within four years to about 40 million, and that annual HDTV would increase 60% by 2012.

"By all counts, sales of both Blu-ray players and HDTVs were such that we did not [foresee] economic concerns impacting consumer purchases or intentions -- at least not at that point," said Kurt Scherf, principal analyst at Parks, in an e-mail to BetaNews today. "It looks like the significant contraction of purchases started occurring in September, and we're waiting to see what kinds of real numbers begin to emerge to verify this."

In the interim, Scherf estimates it's likely that total sales of Blu-ray players will drop at least 25% from the firm's original projections to about 2.2 million players in the US and 4.3 million worldwide. He told BetaNews that Parks is also currently working on revised HDTV sales forecasts.

Meanwhile, in a survey showing that 26% of consumers plan to spend less than last year on the holidays, NPD Group has identified televisions and sunglasses as two of the "season's bright spots."

In a report, the analyst group cited other research performed by NPD as indicating that, with the conversion to digital TV still scheduled for February 2009, many consumers are looking to buy new digital TVs. NPD's survey results also demonstrated, though, that, at 29%, "VHS and DVD discs" will be the third most popular holiday gift this season, following apparel at 49% and toys at 37%.

Books landed in fourth place at 27%, electronics in fifth place at 23%, and video games in sixth place at 22%. NPD's electronics category encompasses TVs in addition to home theater systems/DVD players/recorders, GPS systems, cell phones, computers, and a number of other CE products.

On the other hand, Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies, thinks that items priced below $200 -- a description that doesn't typically apply to either Blu-ray players or HDTVs -- will be best positioned this holiday season.

"Likely to take a hit are the higher price points. Shoppers will come in and browse, but they'll probably leave with smaller packages. Products like expensive flat-panel TVs, fancy notebooks, gaming desktops, and high-end phones will likely remain on the shelves in unprecedented numbers," according to Kay.

Earlier this month, Sony reduced the prices of some of its Blu-ray players by $100. Still, though, the least expensive BD Live-enabled box is priced at $299.

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