Blu-Ray Will Likely Catch On Despite Flaws
from the patience dept
I’ve had my own share of criticisms of the Blu-Ray format in the past, but even I think the thesis that Blu-ray is doomed is over the top. Don Reisinger claims that having won the battle with HD-DVD, Sony’s Blu-Ray format is still going to lose the war of consumer indifference. I think there’s clearly something to this. Clearly, lots of people are still buying DVDs, and the reasons Reisinger identifies — inflexible DRM, high prices, many consumers’ inability to tell the difference between HD and regular definition content — are certainly reasons to expect uptake of the Blu-Ray format to be relatively slow. But I think it’s important to keep the longer-term perspective in mind. People were saying many of the same things about the DVD format a decade ago: complaining about the price and wondering if consumers would care about the quality difference. But the DVD format is indisputably successful. Prices came down. Consumers got used to the higher quality of DVD. It didn’t happen in a year, but it took less than a decade.
The same thing will happen with Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray players today are no more expensive than DVDs were a decade ago, and the PS3 doubles as a video game console. As people upgrade their TVs, more and more of them will get used to high-def picture quality. We’ve pointed out before that faster bandwidth will ultimately render physical formats obsolete. But fortunately for Sony, as bad as Blu-Ray’s DRM is, the download services’ DRM is even worse. You can at least be reasonably sure you’ll be able to play your Blu-Ray disc on most TVs, something that’s often not true of video download services. So in the short run, Blu-Ray probably has time to reach critical mass among consumers before Hollywood figures out how to design a movie download service consumers will actually be interested in. Blu-Ray would catch on faster if it weren’t for the issues Reisinger identifies, but I don’t think there’s much doubt Sony and its partners will sell tens of millions of the things.