HD DVD players from Toshiba began to reach store shelves in some parts of the U.S. this week, according to published reports, and while there were some predictable reports from Toshiba that initial sales were encouraging, no consumer sales figures have yet been released.
Industry speculation in several publications puts the initial (and also unannounced) unit shipment to dealers at between 10,000-15,000 units in the U.S., which would extrapolate, on average, to only a few units shipped to each of the estimated 3,000 initial retailers.
Among the chains premiering the next-gen DVD products (HD-1A, HD-X1A) are Best Buy, Sears and Wal-Mart. Other retailers were anticipating receiving Toshiba players by the weekend of April 22. The two units are about $500 and $800. The player shipments had been delayed a few weeks to correspond with the issuance of early HD DVD titles.
Warner is now offering a trio of titles: "Million Dollar Baby" (with some delays being reported at deadline), "The Last Samurai" and "Phantom of the Opera." Universal is rolling out the science fiction film "Serenity," which failed to garner good box office but came well reviewed, and did surprisingly better in its initial DVD launch a few months ago. More titles from several content providers are expected in the weeks ahead.
Toshiba is running an ad campaign to coincide with its initial ramp up, with the tagline, "So Real You Can Feel It." Some retailers were offering incentives in Sunday newspaper ad inserts on April 16 to help give HD DVD's launch some buzz.
But early adapters, likely, will be mostly limited to the relatively small percentage of current HD homes, and that was reflected in some reported pre-order figures from Amazon.com. While "Serenity" was the Web site's top-selling HD DVD title, it ranked No. 321 overall. "Samurai" was said to be No. 802 early this week, with Academy Award winning "Million Dollar Baby" at No. 3,708.
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