May 2 2008

Blu-ray Suffering Lackluster Sales

Blu-Ray LogoRemember when Toshiba killed off HD DVD, everyone thought Blu-ray would take off now since there was no confusing format war any more? It would appear someone forgot to tell the consumers that they were supposed to be snapping it up.

According to a report issued by the NPD Group, Blu-ray player sales dropped 40% between January and February and then only recovered 2% between February and March. The researchers are actually choosing not to release firm sales figures because you might be able to identify the retailers due to the numbers being so low.

I don’t think this is quite as disastrous as other various tech pundits seem to be thinking: sales will always drop in the post-Christmas season, and we are also seeing a slow down in economic growth, meaning people are less likely to purchase luxury items. I do think one key factor has to be taken into account is the enormous collections of DVDs people have built up during the life-span format.

True, many people have said this would be Blu-ray’s next fight, but I think even they may have underestimated it. Upconverting DVD players are now dirt cheap, well under $100, while Blu-ray players, with their still unfinalized format, are sitting north of $300. So for less than a $100 your DVD collection gets a breath of new life as your able to enjoy them in new clarity on your HDTV, and no need to buy all of the same movies and television shows again in what is essentially the same format.

Meanwhile, the other elephant in the room is digital downloads, and Apple is now going to be delivering those day-and-date with the DVD/Blu-ray releases. The format is not perfected yet, and the resolution is less than that of a DVD, but if you prefer the idea of a lot less clutter in your life, freeing yourself of all that physical media, then you’re probably going to be willing to put up with slightly less resolution. (never mind being able to take your purchase mobile with you on your iPod/iPhone).

So, perhaps instead of HD DVD adopters being the “losers” in this format war, it may end up being all of us thatwent  with a high definition format disc to begin with.  Gee… wouldn’t that be fun?  Thanks, movie studios!

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