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What Blu-ray needs to do in 2009 in order to gain ground

Darren Murph

You, the BDA, whomever, can spin it however you wish, but the fact is that Blu-ray has not had a momentous year. Has it been profitable? Sure. Has adoption grown? No doubt. But consumers at large are showing with their purchasing habits that DVD is still a-okay in their lives. Paul Sweeting over at ContentAgenda surmises that a huge strategy shift is needed for BD to ever seriously steal away market share from DVD. First off, the aptly coined PlayStation 3 "Trojan Horse" strategy has to go. The PS3 is clearly lagging behind the other two consoles in terms of sales, and now that BD deck prices are far lower than the console's MSRP, yet another advantage to owning one has slipped away. The point we most agree with is the one that's likely the most controversial: Blu-ray backers need to get honest here and realize that the format offers only "incremental improvement over standard DVD."

Just think about it -- the move from VHS to DVD was almost entirely unlike the transition from DVD to Blu-ray. In the former example, the quality improvement was incredible. Rewinding became a thing of the past. Full blown surround sound was introduced. Special features and tasty extras were able to fit. Interactive menus were born. Discs were able to be played on desktops and laptops. Compare that to the shift from DVD to Blu-ray. The disc size has remained the same (physically). Audio has only marginally improved, mostly at a level that only audiophiles can appreciate. Visually, there is noticeable improvement only for those with enough cash to snag an HDTV. BD-Live interactivity isn't nearly as captivating as it sounds on paper. Oh, and Blu-ray Discs are markedly more expensive than DVDs.

The reality is that there is far less motivation to switch from DVD to Blu-ray than there was years ago when consumers were tempted to leave VHS behind and enter the DVD arena. Yet, for whatever reason, Blu-ray movies are priced in opposition to that fact. The way we see it, BD will continue to be a niche product so long as it's priced like a niche product, and if it holds out too long, we won't be shocked to see the increasingly ubiquitous HD streaming snag away at least a small bucket of potential customers.

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