Toshiba, mainly through its US$499 HD-E1 HD DVD player, accounted for an 85% market share of next-generation blue-laser optical disc drives/players/recorders sold in Europe in January of this year, according to industry sources in Taiwan. Sony and Samsung Electronics, proponents of the competing Blu-ray Disc (BD) format, together accounted for the remaining 15% of the European market, the sources said, citing statistics by GfK Marketing Services. Prior to the launch of the HD-E1, Toshiba's European market share for blue-laser products in 2006 was only 58%, the sources pointed out. Though HD DVD currently has a lead in Europe, the upcoming launch there of Sony's Blu-ray equipped PS3 game console is expected to heat up competition between the two formats.
Although fast growing demand for HDTV (high-definition TV) is expected to be increase the demand for HD DVD or BD drives/players/recorders, prices as low as US$500 are key to the saleability of such blue-laser products, the sources noted.