Blu-Ray Destined to Decline?

Brenda Barron - Aug 5, 2008

I’m a fan of Blu-ray. Sure back when it was first announced, initial speculation leaned in HD-DVD’s favor. But with the PS3 sporting a Blu-ray player, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind now–Blu-ray won the battle of the next-gen DVD player.

And that’s great. Blu-ray is awesome. The picture is clearer and the menu features are much more interactive. Even so, many consumers are saying, “so what?”

Much of this has to do with the fact that Blu-ray is not an entirely new technology. Sure, it’s an improvement on the DVD, but it’s not a brand new thing. Many people wait to upgrade their systems until there’s something totally new (and 100% accepted) on the market. DVDs still outnumber Blu-rays in stores. I mean, some stores don’t even carry Blu-ray at all! And correct me if I’m wrong, but I could have sworn my local Target carried many more Blu-ray movies a few months ago than they do now.

So what does this mean? Has Blu-ray already had its moment in the sun? Will it be phased out to make room for the “next” technology? It’s hard to say. But when the majority of Blu-ray sales are to those with a PS3, (or at least a very significant portion of them) you know there’s a problem. When a stand alone player can’t sell on its own, there’s a definite issue at hand.

Blu-ray also has a unique disadvantage. It’s the first new video technology that has to compete with an actually thriving downloadable movie business. When you factor in iTunes sales and Netflix rentals, there’s a greater emphasis on renting than ever before. In short, people are sidestepping the whole “what player to buy” decision altogether by renting movies or downloading them onto their computers.

Standard DVDs look great. There’s no doubt about it. And sure Blu-ray looks better, but only if you have an HDTV. Otherwise, standard and Blu-ray are playing on the same playing field.

As much as I love Blu-ray, it has a rocky road ahead. With high costs, increased rentals and downloads, and a public without the equipment to appreciate its superior quality, Blu-ray may very well be doomed.

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