Target to stock only Blu-ray standalone players in store
An Associated Press article published today has revealed that Target, the United State’s 2nd largest retailer, will begin stocking Blu-ray standalone players this fall. Meanwhile, the competing HD DVD format players will not be carried inside Target stores. The Sony BDP-S300 is the standalone model that will be offered, which has a current MSRP of $499.
In addition to carrying a stock of Blu-ray players, Target will be setting up demo-stations at the end-caps of aisles in store. These demo-stations will feature the Blu-ray player along with Blu-ray Disc titles from 3 Hollywood studios, including Sony, Disney and one other studio (probably Fox).
Target would not say why it decided to sell only Blu-ray players. Sony is paying a fee to have their products featured in the end-of-aisle display, called an endcap, although Sony executives said the retailer contacted them about the decision.
“We are not proclaiming one format vs. the other as the preferred consumer technology, and software will continue to be available to our guests in both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD format,” Target spokeswoman Brie Heath said.
Target will track customer feedback and adjust offerings as necessary, Heath said.
As noted above, Target will continue to sell HD DVD titles as well as the Xbox 360 HD DVD Add-on drive. Target also sells a Toshiba HD DVD player from it’s website, but not in any physical stores.
The HD DVD response
The HD DVD camp was not fazed by the Target decision, pointing out that HD DVD players continue to outsell Blu-ray players, which are at least twice the cost. They also point out that HD DVD players and DVDs are featured in endcap displays in Circuit City and Best Buy stores.
HD DVD promoters also contend that consumers are more influenced by price than product selection.
“HD DVD players are the most affordable,” said Ken Graffeo, co-president of the North American HD DVD Promotional Group. “It’s one thing to have a player featured, but it’s another if it doesn’t sell.”
The usual downplay from the HD DVD Promotions Group
In a response that is looking all too common, the HD DVD Promotions Group is trying to down-play the significance of this announcement. With Target being the 2nd largest retailer in the USA, this news is a huge win for the Blu-ray Disc Association. And while Target has not completely ruled out carrying HD DVD players in store in the future, it seems clear that they will be a Blu-ray only store for the upcoming 2007 holiday season, which is a key time period in this high definition format war. Blu-ray continues to build momentum.