New Blu-ray format ‘in a death spiral’

VHS reigned for 30 years, but Blu-ray is faltering after eight months



When the clunky VHS video format officially gave up the ghost a few years back, it had survived to the ripe old age of 30. But barely eight months after Sony’s Blu-ray technology emerged as the king of high-definition video, observers are already asking whether its days are numbered.

Retailers in the U.S. are slashing prices on Blu-ray players, from US$400 earlier this year to US$230 (they now sell for $270 in Canada) in a bid to boost Christmas sales. Yet analysts say even that may not be enough. Last week, Robin Harris, a blogger for tech website ZDNet, wrote that “Blu-ray is in a death spiral.”

Part of the problem is the drawn-out war that took place between Blu-ray and rival format HD DVD over which would become the industry standard. HD DVD waved the white flag in February. But while the two technologies battled it out, DVD prices fell and new technologies such as video-on-demand and Internet video streaming gained a foothold. “If you can get movies over the wire on demand and have an entire library at your disposal on the screen à la Netflix, that’s the way you’re going to go,” Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, noted last week in newspaper reports. What’s more, critics say the improved picture quality isn’t enough to warrant the higher price for Blu-ray discs—$30 versus $15 for regular DVDs. Kay predicted there will be a “dramatic” drop in Blu-ray sales starting this quarter.

The Blu-ray Disc Association has tried to counter the grim outlook by pointing out that the Blu-ray version of the hit movie Iron Man sold more than 500,000 copies in its first week, topping all other Blu-ray titles this year. But during the same period, consumers also snapped up 7.2 million copies of the regular DVD version.

Now, as the economy tanks, some wonder if consumers will just stick with their old DVDs. As Apple’s Steve Jobs put it in mid-October, Blu-ray is now in a “bag of hurt.”


New Blu-ray format ‘in a death spiral’

  1. I buy a fair amount of dvd’s but will not go the extra for Blu-Ray. The quality of regular dvd’s is quite allright for me. Perhaps if the war between HD and Blu-Ray hadn’t gone on for so long I might have been enticed to get one or the other. Now I really don’t care for either. Just give me the regular!

  2. I recommend to all. simply to wait and see what happens with Blu-Ray. If this holiday season does not spark significant and sustainable growth in this market segment, with lower player pricing, then nothing will, and then it is pretty much, “A rap,” for Blu-Ray!

    Oh and that so graciously provided rebuttal link to the “article/blog/rant,” isn’t just a tennie weenie bit……….. BIASED! LMFAO!

  3. It’s obvious that whatever slim chance Blu-ray had of taking over from DVD has vanished as the credit crunch and recession take hold.

    The awkward fact few Blu-ray fans will admit is that at normal viewing distances (say 12′ and over) you need a huge HD TV to benefit from the higher resolution (around 60″+) .

    Unfortunately for Blu-ray we know that the last figures (sept 08) show the majority of HD TVs sold are small 32″ – 42″ 720p sets, thus making Blu-ray’s native 1080p resolution advantage over upscaled ordinary DVD far less of a ‘wow’ than it might be, for most.

    You also need expensive high-end audio equipment to benefit from the improved audio that it can offer (and that’s a high-end speaker package as well as a new and expensive HD receiver).

    In a recession people make the most of what they have.
    Unfortunately for Blu-ray that is DVD almost the whole world over.
    With money & credit tight it is extremely unlikely that people will be rushing out to buy relatively expensive Blu-ray players.
    Not when they cost so much yet offer so little over upscaled DVD on the sort of kit most have.

  4. Blu-ray *is* better.

    Watch the mountain scenes in ‘Bucket List’ on a high definition wide-screen television with a Blu-ray disc and you’ll be blown away.

    But the real potential for Blu-ray that hasn’t been fully exploited yet is as a personal storage medium. I’ve got tons of digital photos that I’d like to get off my hard drive and onto a 50 gig Blu-ray disc. Plus I’m downloading more and more entertainment (music, movies, games) that I’d like to get off my hard drive.

    Blu-ray still has a future.

  5. DVD is good enough if you’re looking for “cheap”. If you’re looking for “good” then Blu-ray is the ONLY choice. Downloads and HD Cable are very low in quality they’re not worthy of my $6 in pay-per-view money, especially when Blu-ray rental is only $4 !!!

    Furthermore, comparing $30 blu-ray to $15 DVD is comparing apples to oranges. Please have the honesty to compare new-release blu-ray vs new release DVD, which is around $30 vs $25… and for that $5 difference I get 6x the resolution and sound quality identical to the studio master.

    I guess, $250 for a blu-ray player with 3 blu-ray movies included may be too expensive for people like Patricia.

  6. Well, what about the load times.

    Some players require 2 – 3 minutes just to load the film, then you have to sit through FBI warnings and Advertising, yes that’s right, advertising that you can`t skip over. After about 10 mins you will finally be watching the film…. that is if the broken DRM ( digital rights management ) works.

  7. The debate has never been whether Blu-ray is (in absolute terms) ‘better’ than DVD.

    The debate is whether the marginal improvement most will see on their 720p 32″ – 42″ HD TVs is worth it.

    Especially if you only have a basic Dolby Digital (or Dolby Pro Logic) audio set-up.

    It’s a hell of a lot of money extra for very very little gain.

  8. Blu-ray, DVD, HD-DVD, Pay-per view, etc. etc.

    Regardless of quality, they’re all still too expensive…

    With the economy in the tank, people will/are cutting corners wherever they can… movies are one such corner most people can cut out…

    While I”m not condoning it, downloading movies from the Internet (a la torrents and P2P) is relatively easy to do and –

    IT’S FREE !!!

    You can get almost anything that’s out on DVD from the net…

  9. Not to mention that it looks likely that a new format will beat Blu-Ray on price and quality soon enough.

  10. Blu-Ray is indeed better than “regular” DVD.

    Betamax was better than VHS. Anyone want to remind us how that turned out?

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