From the Los Angeles Times:
Drawn to the sharp pictures and cinematic sound, consumers have bought up DVD players faster than any other electronic device in history. Even though the players became widely available in the United States only 5 1/2 years ago, more than 46 million homes now have one attached to a TV or a computer monitor.
But sales have skyrocketed in large part because prices have plummeted. In turn, so have manufacturers' profits. As no-name, no-frills brands have flooded stores, the Japanese and European electronics giants that invented DVD have watched their profit margins get squeezed in record time.
Retailers' profits have mostly evaporated, too, as the average price of a DVD player has fallen from $491 in 1997 to an estimated $118 today, according to NPD Intelect, a research firm. Entry-level units sell for $59 or less.
"The joke is you're going to get a free DVD player with the purchase of a DVD [movie] pretty soon," said Noah Herschman, vice president for video at Tweeter Home Entertainment Group of Canton, Mass.