Blu-ray: who cares?

8 Aug 2008

Not consumers apparently. According to US research firm ABI Research, Blu-ray may have won the high-definition format war against HD DVD as the media format to replace the DVD, but not many are rushing out to invest.

More than 50pc of the 1000 surveyed by ABI said they are not planning to buy a Blu-ray player at any point in the near future because of ‘other commitments’, while some 23pc say they will invest in a player eventually but not until some time in the next year.

The lag in sales of both Blu-ray and HD DVD last year was explained by the fact that two warring formats meant consumers were waiting to see which one was going to definitively replace the DVD.

However, since January 2008 – after Warner Brothers announced its sole support for Blu-ray and the rest of Hollywood followed suit – this disc format has been uncontested, so why the slow growth?

ABI analyst, Steve Wilson, claimed it is because consumers don’t see the inherent value in swapping formats: “Consumers were happy to embrace standard DVD when that format arrived because the improvement in quality over VHS videotapes was dramatic. Standard DVD didn’t require the purchase of a new TV either.

“In contrast, while half of the respondents to our survey rated Blu-ray’s quality as ‘much better’ than standard DVD, another 40pc termed it only ‘somewhat better,’ and most are very satisfied with the performance of their current DVD players.”

Added to this is the belief by some that the physical format will eventually die out when broadband speeds are no longer an issue (that’ll be 2050 in Ireland then), because the ability to rapidly download high-definition movies and TV programmes will be ubiquitous.

Last year, Windows client business manager, Mike Hughes, told “Content is moving away from the container: eventually high-definition content is going to move onto the internet more and more.”

However, another US analyst firm Pali Research reckons that Blu-ray player and disc sales will triple this year. One wonders if this is due to the built-in Blu-ray in the popular Sony PlayStation 3 console or standalone players, which more often than not cost not much less than the entire games console.

By Marie Boran

Pictured: a standalone Blu-ray player from Sony