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Blu-ray Might Have Won the Battle, But It’s Losing the War

blu-ray-logo-thumb-200x200Polling from research firm Harris released on Thursday paints a not so rosy picture for Blu-ray, the winning high definition optical disc format. In fact, more than a year after it “won” over HD DVD, it still trails its now-defunct competitor by several percentage points. That has to have some at Sony a little concerned.

Harris says 7 percent of Americans own a Blu-ray player, up from 4 percent a year ago. Compare this to HD DVD’s performance, which is actually up 5 percent from 2008 to 11 percent. How could a format that doesn’t even exist anymore do better than one that does? Simple answer — price.

Since HD DVDs fall, prices on Blu-ray players have changed little. Similarly, media remains expensive. I chuckle when passing by the Blu-ray section: most films are still retailing for $25-30 in many cases, which seems high given the current state of the economy.

Players are also expensive — generally remaining above $200. There are a few now below that, but most are not. Like many have said, high-def disc just isn’t enough of a change for most to justify the premium.

There’s worse news down the pike. Only 7 percent of respondents say they plan to buy a Blu-ray player in the next year, which is actually down two points from 2008.

I don’t see how Blu-ray ends up winning this battle. With streaming media continuing to become more popular, and the technology behind it improving, the format’s window of opportunity is closing.

Streaming, on-demand media is the future of entertainment. Physical media is not. I wonder how many inside Sony are regretting now not trying to work with HD DVD and avoiding the format war.

Sony may have won against HD DVD, but it seems to be losing with the consumer.


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