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.

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Comments on “Blu-Ray Will Likely Catch On Despite Flaws”

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ProphetBeal (user link) says:

Re: But wait!

They aren’t shooting themselves in the foot. It is a wide known fact that the Blu-Ray standards (specific to extra features) has not been finalized, this is the reason for the profile updates. Not to mention (which was missed in the article you linked to) that these profiles can be updated via firmware updates, so some won’t need to get new hardware. Lets not forget the fact that all those profiles mean is that you may not be able to access certain special features if you have an older profile. The movie themselves still work w/o a problem.

Petréa Mitchell says:

Re: Re: But wait!

“It is a wide known fact…”

It’s widely known to techies. I’m willing to bet that if you go to Wal-Mart and ask a few random people who are browsing the DVD players, you will quickly find that this is not widely known among consumers in general.

“Not to mention … that these profiles can be updated via firmware updates”

The article does mention that some players are updatable to varying degrees. Also that some are not.

“Lets not forget the fact that all those profiles mean is that you may not be able to access certain special features if you have an older profile.”

When a person buys a profile 2.0 Blu-ray disc, and puts it in a profile 1.0 player, and can’t access the special features the advertising promised, the conclusion will be that the disc “doesn’t work”.

All that needs to happen is for one studio to stick entirely with profile 1.0 and start marketing its discs as “plays anywhere” as opposed to profile 2.0 discs that “don’t work”, and they essentially become competing standards.

(There are, of course, plenty of other ways that they could essentially become competing standards.)

Beefcake says:

Form factor

While I agree with Tim that Blu-ray will probably be wiedespread adopted (though for a much shorter run as the dominant format than that enjoyed by DVD), Blu-ray lacks one advantage over DVD that DVD had over it’s predecessor: form factor. DVD replaced video cassettes. It wasn’t just playback quality, but size and durability of the form as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“When DVDs became popular, they also provided a lot of content that video cassettes didn’t provide, like deleted scenes, bloopers, and commentary from actors and directors.”

…and also to mention improved video quality and being able to keep a recording for a few years, knowing that the quality wouldn’t degrade over time.

These were things that VCD & SVCD were to replace – but VCD & SVCD lost to DVD because of those added benefits of DVD you’ve mentioned.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I agree. It’s not just picture and sound quality that pushed DVD sales. Even with a piece of junk TV and mono sound, there are still quite a few advantages DVD had over VHS. Commentaries, deleted scenes, making-of features, the convenience of no longer needing to rewind a tape, the ability to skip to any part of a movie instantly, never having the player eat your tape, no loss of quality over time, and more. These were all huge and obvious advantages DVDs had over VHS tapes.

Right now, the only advantage I see Blu-ray having over DVD is sound and picture quality, and I’m not convinced that’s enough for the format to catch on. I have a great big HDTV and 5.1 surround sound and I’m not even close to buying into Blu-ray.

Angry Consumer says:

About this Blu-Ray...

I’ll never own one. I’m not going to support something that does not allow me to exercise my right to fair use copies, that can at random block my unit from playing any media, and that will phone home to transmit my viewing habits thanks to the Internet connection required for my player to validate the disc. I’ll stick to DVDs.

SuperDave says:

People are like cows ...

Does anyone remember Vinyl? When CDs came out, the audiophiles (rightfully) insisted that the quality was not as good, since it was sampled. Industry had settled on an early standard, and ditched other formats that would have filled in some of the digital gaps in the sampling. In any case, it didn’t matter, the masses bought them up, and we were stuck with an inferior product, not that that made them any less successful. If Blu_Ray gets market share, it will survive. If there is a technical matter that prevents playback and ‘phones home’, there are enough techies out there with time on their hands to find a work-around.

Kris in Alaska says:

Blu-ray Advantages

The defense that Blu-ray won’t catch on due to lack of portability that DVD currently has is absolutely absurd and lacking any sort of real grounds for argument. DVD only recently became fully portable with DVD-reading in-car music players only just being released mainstream within the last couple of years. Even now, a large number of people can’t play music from DVDs in their cars or home stereo systems.

Blu-ray is already off to a great start considering that the player was released in the PS3. The fact that one of the major next-generation console gaming platforms contains the ability to play Blu-rays has already caused a large amount of the populace to have the capabilities to watch Blu-ray media, something that wasn’t achieved for a great number of years for DVD. Also, Sony is already working on agreements with Microsoft and Apple to get Blu-ray players in both company’s major media players (The XBox 360 will be a second major platform that will allow consumers to view Blu-ray media). This is a much more rapid progression than DVD ever had, and I would take this as a sign that Blu-ray has advantages DVDs never had.

Anyone who thinks that a new form of media storage would automatically be instantly available in every househome within 1-2 years is just not thinking realistically. Blu-ray is definitely in for the long haul, but it’s already a fastly growing and prospering format for next generation media. The future is most definitely Blu.

Jake says:

I have to agree that the quality gap between Blu Ray and regular DVD is a lot narrower than the gap between DVD and VHS, going by the examples I’ve seen, and I doubt one gets the full effect without an HD-TV set to go with it. Once high-definition technology gets more widespread, I expect Blu Ray will follow suit.
I would dispute, however, that downloading will ever completely replace formats like DVD. I can get fifty 700MB CD-Rs -35GB of data storage- for just $30 -about the price of a 2GB flash drive- to say nothing of the fact that burning a CD is less hassle than upgrading my hard drive and storing stuff on portable media a hell of a lot better for the performance of my admittedly low-end and increasingly obsolescent home computer, which takes rather longer to load a large movie file from the hard drive than it takes me to get a DVD down from the shelf and put it in the machine. Once the big film studios reach a compromise between end-user experience and containing piracy, I’d expect a lot of DVD sales will be download-to-burn.

Paul Descartes says:

Bluray success...

Personally, I don’t think Blu-ray will succeed. The true next-gen format will be SSD-based. Take your authenticated device to a kiosk and rent your movie. From the perspective of the Blockbuster’s of the world there is no inventory overhead, no lost/stolen disks, and no destroyed disks. As well, people can buy movies in this format. If they were to standardize the form factor to something like Compact Flash, PCMCIA, SD, Memory Stick, MMC, or xD, consumers could plug their movie into a portable player, PC, Mac, or set-top player. No need to ‘archive’. Provided cost scales quick enough, and they can secure such a format to Hollyweird’s liking, this is can happen IMO.

Alexander (profile) says:

sigh.. u guys seems to forget why BR or HD-DVD were developed in da first place… because DVD doesn’t have enough space to fit HD movie data… DRM aside.. regular consummers don’t care much about it.. as long as they can just plop the disk in and watch da movie with good quality picture and sound… now that the US phasing out regular over-the-air NTSC signal n phasing in HD signal.. more ppl r going to get HD TV.. then BR will catch on even more… once ppl get used to HD stuffs nobody will want to watch movies from DVD just because the picture quality is not as good… even with up conversion to HD from regular DVD..

to tell u the truth, i always feel that ppl who complain much about DRM r ppl who most likely to rip da data.. or download the content… that’s why they complain about DRM cause they have to go extra step to get those stuffs.. or pay for it… me personally? i buy CD n DVD n BR DVD all da time… i like to own physical copy.. but that’s just me…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Annoying abbreviations aside, you’re pretty wrong I think. First DRM – people will care about it when they have problems because of it. Most people didn’t have a problem with Apple’s DRM until they tried moving their music onto a non-iPod system for the first time. The DRM will become an issue when people want to play back on an “unauthorised” system, and has already caused issues for people trying to play back discs on older equipment – that is legitimately bought discs.

Also, the move to a digital signal is just that – a move to a digital signal. That makes HD possible, but it’s NOT an HD signal by default.

As for moving to Blu-Ray, most people are going to take a long time to do it. People with massive HD sets and surround systems are moving to BR, but that’s not what most people have. An upscaled standard def DVD is more than enough for most people, and Blu-Ray doesn’t have any other features to tempt people into buying. Also, people are still replacing their VHS tapes with DVDs so would resent having to replace again, especially with the industry’s habit of double-dipping and not putting all the old extras onto the HD discs.

Nope, Blu-Ray will remain a minority for a long time.

Mike (user link) says:


Seriously, go buy a cheap upscaling DVD player when you get your new HDTV! The difference is really incredible (compared to standard DVD quality) and guess what? You can still buy cheap, used DVD’s!

I won’t buy a BluRay sorry. But I would not be surprised to see these upscaling DVD players be taken of the market.

I was tempted to buy an HD-DVD player @ Bestbuy for $49! Then a quick look at the limited and considerably more expensive (compared to DVD) selection set me straight.

Bring on a cheap download service (7 or 8 bucks is robbery) and I’ll gladly pay for and download 20 plus movies a year.

Tim makes an interesting point when he says “I don’t think there’s much doubt Sony and its partners will sell tens of millions of the things” hmmm sounds like a small number compared to the number of DVD sales.

Bob (user link) says:

Re: UPscaling!

I agree … I’ll not be purchasing even an HD-TV let alone a BR DVD player. Once I get more than 6 feet away from the screen I can’t tell much difference. Plus, now the advertising has become so insidious that even the actual program content is overlayed with ads across the bottom of the screen in addition to the 12 to 14 ad block of time every 7 or 8 minutes – I’ve quit watching all together. Avarice and greed have basically killed the goose that was laying the golden egg, IMHO.

SailorRipley says:

Re: UPscaling!

I don’t know what criteria you use to determine quality, nor what titles/scenes you base your statements on, but I can say that most of the upscaled DVD content I have seen on a HDTV did have some issue or other…

I’m not saying it needs to be 100% all the time, but before upscaling DVDs would be an acceptable alternative to true HD, it will have to get better / issues will have to happen much more rarely…

which frankly in my (techie) opinion can’t/won’t happen…after all, upscaling means you try to produce a resolution that is several times higher than the resolution/information you start with…just try it with a picture, scale it down and then scale it back up and compare it to the original…sure, expensive software/algorithms might do a somewhat better job, but if you can’t tell the difference, there’s something wrong with your eyes

Alimas says:

Downloading? Are you serious?

Its going to be atleast another decade before downloading movies comes anywhere near being able to outperform sales of the physical media.
The average consumer doesn’t have neither the bandwidth nor the storage capacity to make it feasible even for things encoded way below DVD quality. Anything comparable or above can take days now, even at a quick transmission rate.
Picking up the movie in a store is typically only a 30 second to ten minute addition on your regular errand trips. Or ten to twenty minutes out to the store to buy it.
Making downloading movies simple and quick enough for the average home Joe Shmoe who doesn’t know bit-torrents from Big Macs is first going to require a lot of change on the infrastructures and habits of the ISPs and as we can see now, they’re not too keen on change. They’d rather slow down current stuff rather than speed anything up.

Like DVD before it, Blu-Ray’s big hang up is price. As they fall BR will start becoming standard.

Dean Landolt (profile) says:

“People were saying many of the same things about the DVD format a decade ago”

VHS->DVD is more akin to the Tape->CD transition. Trying to convince consumers of the benefits of Blue-Ray is like trying to sell us on HD-Audio — the benefits of digital-to-higher-def-digital are practically indiscernible compared to the obvious benefits of analog-to-digital.

OGBOB says:

Blu-ray can succeed

The chemistry between Blu-ray and the consumer is still up in the air. Sony just recently got all 6 major movie studios to produce in Blu-ray. Prices have dropped for both the movies and players. The capacity of the discs are growing (200GB last I checked). The problem with Blu-ray is still the price of movies and the quality of them. Not all movies are of the same quality. Some are far superior than others is terms of video/audio quality. Video quality concerns me the most. Why would anyone want to pay $35 for a movie that is equal or less than DVD in terms of video. My other concern is the read times of the discs. Sony, please stop focusing on capacity and improve your transfer rates. They suck. It’s great to have the ability to put an entire trilogy or season on 1 disc but if it take 10 years to transfer the content to your t.v, forget it. I really want Blu-ray to succeed. Not that I’m not a big fan of Sony, but I see the potential in the product. Just watch the first Pirates of the Carribean movie. F***ing awesome.

Bob MacDonald says:

Blu-Ray Will Likely Catch On Despite Flaws

The Blu-Ray file size and media required to archive it does not compensate for the slight edge in picture quality. What’s the screen resolution in the average movie theater? I’m guessing not even close to what the standard DVD can already provide on a smaller screen (of course). A lot of low res vintage movies & TV shows simply are not going to benefit from the Blu-Ray treatment.

H. says:


In my opinion most people commenting here have either one or a few misconceptions regarding Blu-ray and HDTV all together. Most probably dont own an HDTV or a Blu-ray player and therefore are just making opinions about the technology up as they go. Blu-ray probably wont ever out sell DVD but that doesnt mean it wont “catch on” in fact, It already has caught on with most of the techie HD Fanboys. I dont think any gaming consoles will ever outsell the PS2 (140+ Million Units) but that doesnt mean they didnt or wont “catch on”. When new technology is innovated people always talk about it in this regard and I find that they are split into two groups. 1) The people who embrace new technology and buy it no matter what even if they take a loss. and 2) The People who cling to the older technology until it is no longer available, These are the people who try to down talk the new technology till they are blue in the face.

The group 2 people are the people who are still “building their DVD collections” well guess what. Even if Blu-ray doesnt replace DVD another technology will.

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