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Blu-Ray Disc Sales Weak Despite HD DVD Defeat

Sales of Blu-ray disc players haven't been helped by maker Toshiba's capitulation over producing the rival HD DVD format, research firm NPD Group said Wednesday.

Toshiba announced on Feb. 19 that it would stop making HD DVD players, already doomed by Warner Bros. Entertainment's announcement Jan. 4 that it was dropping HD DVD to focus on Blu-ray.

Sales of Blu-ray players, excluding PlayStation 3 game consoles, dropped 40 percent from January to February in the U.S., according to NPD.

Sales grew only 2 percent from February to March. The firm didn't release numbers of players sold.

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"When we surveyed consumers late last year, an overwhelming number of them said they weren't investing in a new next-generation player because their old DVD player worked well and next-generation players were too expensive," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD. "It's clear from retail sales that those consumer sentiments are still holding true."

While DVD players cost less than $100, Blu-ray players generally cost $400 or more.

Another factor that may be holding back sales of Blu-ray players is that anticipated models with Internet connectivity haven't hit the market yet. Current models can't be upgraded.

But sales of PS3s seem to be recovering, perhaps with help from their built-in Blu-ray players. Sony Corp. sold 257,120 units in the U.S. in March, nearly doubling last year's figure.

Another firm, ABI Research, estimates that PS3s will account for more than 85 percent of Blu-ray players in use this year and that the number of stand-alone players and Blu-ray-equipped PCs won't surpass them until 2013.