CEA: DVD Hottest Product in History

Rockets launched into space move slowly at liftoff, but with thrust continually applied, they gain momentum until they break free of Earth's gravity. The Digital Versatile Disc has done something similar, according to the latest figures from the Consumer Electronics Association: As of November 23, the DVD is the hottest-selling consumer-electronics product in history.

From its introduction in 1997, the DVD has made phenomenal gains. In the first year, US sales amounted to 349,000 units. The following year, as Circuit City-backed Divx was trying to grab a share of the market, DVD sales more than tripled, to 1,079,000 units. In 1999, sales have topped 3.1 million units—better than 150% over what the CEA had predicted after conducting a survey of potential buyers late in 1998. The organization now believes that holiday sales will push the total to 3.5 million or better. There is now an "installed base" of almost 4.5 million DVD players in consumers' homes, according to CEA statistics.

Other successful consumer-electronics products, such as the video cassette recorder and the CD player, have taken far longer to attain a similar degree of acceptance. Only 35,000 CD players were sold in 1983, their first year on the market. Consumers are quick to see the benefits that DVD offers, says CEA president Gary Shapiro. "Enhanced picture quality, digital sound, multiple aspect ratios, various language tracks, and interactivity—all unique to DVD—make this technology purchase an easy decision for consumers." DVD is driving the entire video segment of the electronics industry into a period of "extraordinary growth," according to Shapiro.