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The rumors of Blu-ray's death are greatly exaggerated

Ben Drawbaugh

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Just like clockwork, whenever the world of digital downloads has some big news, many so called technologist start proclaiming the death of physical media; meanwhile, those who actually understand the business can't help but laugh. Those who proclaim the death of Blu-ray will one day feel as silly as those who proclaimed the death of VHS in the 90's because of the birth of VOD, because here we are over ten years later and JVC just now stopped producing stand-alone VHS decks and combo units still sell -- why, is beyond us though. The reality is that little shiny discs aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and because of the similarities between DVD and Blu-ray -- and CDs for that matter -- the possibility of Blu-ray becoming the next LaserDisc isn't likely. This is because unlike LD -- which was a very successful format by Hollywood's measure -- Blu-ray players will soon (12 to 18 months) push DVD players completely out of the market as the prices continue to diminish. While at the same time, most Blu-ray players play DVDs better than DVD players do. But regardless of DVD vs Blu-ray, what these technology pundits really mean is that the age of digital downloads is upon us and that physical media is dead. And while everyone knows that the death of physical media is inevitable, the time frame is really what's in question. We could just as easily make our own predictions, but instead of taking the risk of looking stupid, we'll quote Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, who when asked if all the new streaming services would negatively affect its DVD business, responded with "the typical streaming customer differed from the typical DVD subscriber; so comparing the two wouldn't make sense."

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