Surprise, Surprise: Blu-Ray Still Not Catching On

from the late-to-the-party dept

Way back in 2005, as we sat through yet another ridiculous and self-defeating standards battle over the "next generation" standard for high definition DVDs, we pointed out that it was probably already too late, as the market was already beginning to recognize that disc-based storage made less and less sense. And yet, because the two sides fighting over the standard could only see monopolistic dollar signs from winning the "battle" they kept on fighting. Yet, with two competing standards, very few people wanted to bet on either one, knowing if they bet wrong, they were stuck with a useless box. And this went on for years. And years. And eventually Blu-ray won in early 2008, even though it was clearly already too late.

The latest numbers suggest, indeed, that despite Blu-ray "winning" the standards battle, it likely missed the big window for success, as many people just don't see the point in buying yet another new box and having to get movies all over again -- especially as online delivery is becoming more and more effective and efficient. I don't think Blu-ray will collapse completely, but it seems like the standards battle became a prisoner's dilemma of sorts -- with both sides ending up much worse off. If they had just agreed to a standard back in 2004/2005, when they had a chance, because online delivery options really weren't that good. Today, however, they're not just good enough for many people, they're getting better all the time.


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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:48pm

    Missing a point

    Those of us who watched the HDDVD/BLURAY battle were rooting for HD precisely because it was a more consumer-friendly format.

    But we knew that BR would win in the end, because it offered more DRM that could be changed on the fly. Well, the industry got what it wanted. Only I ain't buying it.

    I'm still buying DVDs (at least, when they don't get greedy there, too.) I like the storage/show-off value enough. I'm sure the industry will eventually squash that market, in an effort to try to move everyone to their newer, crippled format.

     

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      indeciSEAN (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:17pm

      Re: Missing a point

      out of curiosity why on earth do you feel that HD is or was a more "consumer friendly" format? i was watching the battle and rooting for bluray the whole time -- i didn't EXPECT it to win (see betamax vs VHS) but i certainly was glad that it did. the only people i knew who were bummed with the direction things went were those who invested in HDDVD early on and were stock with a "worthless" collection/"had to rebuy"

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 6:51pm

    "the market was already beginning to recognize that disc-based storage made less and less sense"

    How exactly do you support this claim?

     

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      mechwarrior, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:07pm

      Re:

      Though its mostly anecdotal, it does make sense. Netflix will soon roll out a streaming-only subscription service, Direct2Download and Steam are getting lots of business through online sales, Amazon and Apple with their music and video services. You dont need eyes to know that the game is changing.

       

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        another mike (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

        Re: Re:

        Steam and Blizzard control my computer. And now that Blizzard's Battle.net lets you reload the client over the web, it made things much easier to upgrade since I didn't have to go hunt down all the game discs.

         

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:11pm

      Re:

      How exactly do you support this claim?

      Easily.

      (1) Other disc-based delivery mechanisms -- both software and music -- have seen sharp declines. Consumers aren't idiots. They recognize where things are heading.
      (2) Online video options were growing and improving, and getting increased usage.

      It doesn't take a leap for someone who views videos on YouTube or Hulu to start to question why they need to buy an expensive new DVD player, knowing that the same sorts of things will increasingly be available for movies online.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:56pm

        Re: Re:

        It's the difference between facts and jumping to a conclusion.

        (1) Flat screen TV sales, air travel, and about 101 other things are also seeing "sharp declines". The economy is one of those amazing things, it has an effect on everything. You are also not considering the concept that people see little reason to upgrade from DVD to Blu-Ray, and are instead remaining with their existing hardware.

        (2) in some markets yes, in others no. Hulu is a great example - limited to the US market.

        "It doesn't take a leap for someone who views videos on YouTube or Hulu to start to question why they need to buy an expensive new DVD player, knowing that the same sorts of things will increasingly be available for movies online."

        Yes - and yet these same people are the ones burning the stuff to disc for safe keeping. It's amazing, isn't it?

         

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          Michael Whitetail, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes - and yet these same people are the ones burning the stuff to disc for safe keeping. It's amazing, isn't it?

          How exactly do you support this claim?

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 6:33am

        Re: Re:

        Blu-Ray sales were about 4.8 million units in the first quarter of 2008. They were about 9 million units in the first quarter of 2009. (Source: TG Daily) The total sales of Blu-Ray discs in the U.S. was about 24 million in 2008.

        Blu-Ray player sales in the U.S. in Q1 2009 jumped 72% from last year to 400,000 units. (Source: TG Daily)

        Sam's Club has doubled the space taken up by Blu-Ray discs twice in about the last two years. I would estimate that Blu-Ray discs now take about about 20% of the space available for video discs at my local Sam's Club. Of course, Sam's Club (at least, my local one) carries no HD-DVD discs.

        Blu-Ray is suffering from a weak economy, higher priced discs when the cost of DVD's continues to drop (there are hundreds of $4 and $5 discs now available), people who waited until the format wars played out, and price reductions on the players.

        What will be more auspicious than the current survey is the one that follows a year from now. If we are truly passing from the early adopter phase, then sales should climb steadily in rapidly, with Blu-Ray sales overtaking DVD sales some time in 2010.

        One plus for the "online movie access" fans, approximately 63% of all Americans have access to broadband, though not all those with broadband access have a computer with a sufficient amount of memory or speed to download or play movies (I have to count myself in that with respect to my desktop - it is both hard drive and RAM challenged and I used my much newer laptop more and more; I doubt I could do much movie downloading with my desktop computer; my laptop, on the other hand, rocks!).

         

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      Designerfx (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:36pm

      Re:

      H274 movies taking up 1-2GB and being able to be downloaded the same day, maybe?

       

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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:07pm

    I love Blu-ray. It's all I rent from Netflix anymore, unless I know that the movie will likely never be released in Blu-ray. And anyone who seriously thinks that a streamed movie or an upsampled DVD is "as good" as a blu-ray either has a crappy TV or needs glasses.

    But even I admit that any disc based movie format is dead. Well, maybe not dead. But at best niche. The movie industry will never have a runaway success like it did with the phenomenal growth and sales of DVDs.

     

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      Alex, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:18pm

      "As good" doesn't necessarily mean equal, just not worth the cost of conversion. I doubt HD is gonna make Brick any more enjoyable, or Generic Summer Blockbuster any less.

       

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        Michael Whitetail, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:43pm

        Re:

        Agreed. It isn't about the absolute quality, it's about acceptable quality at the proper price point. Both of which are highly subjective, and differ from person to person.

        I got in on HD-DVD with a $50 add-on to my xbox 360 after the format was declared dead. I got all the movies I wanted on HD-DVD for about $5 a peice. And while I know there will be no more movies produced for the format, this doesn't bother me, nor was I "stuck with a useless box." There is no need to replace my existing DVD library, why would I pay *again* for movies I already own? It's not like the industry didn't sucker me and everyone else in spending our hard earned money for VHS, and then DVD...

         

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      hegemon13, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      "And anyone who seriously thinks that a streamed movie or an upsampled DVD is "as good" as a blu-ray either has a crappy TV or needs glasses."

      Unfortunately for Blu-ray, only about 1/3 of households currently have an HDTV (http://www.videobusiness.com/article/CA6660723.html). For the vast majority of households, Blu-ray has absolutely NOTHING more to offer. Even on my 720p set, the difference between an anamorphic DVD and 720p is pretty minimal. There is some difference, and I would choose HD given the choice, but it is certainly not enough better to spend substantial money on.

      Really, the only market that Blu-ray serves are those who own 1080p HDTVs above 36 inches. That's a pretty niche market right now. DVD gave people a reason to buy when it's picture quality far exceeded most TVs in homes. DVD changed the way we watch movies, offering solid surround sound, extra features, random access, non-degrading quality, no rewinding, easier storage, etc, etc. Blu-ray offers a bit of an upgrade to sound and picture for a small portion of the population who have the equipment to enjoy it.

      You're right that Blu-ray offers better quality, and I'm glad you enjoy it so much. However, it is not "better enough" to make most people spend money. By the time HDTV ownership reaches critical mass, it will be too late for Blu-ray to really dominate. By then, the majority of people will be streaming their content from online collections. Blu-ray is doomed to remain a premium offering. It won't die soon, but it will be more like a slightly-more-successful Laserdisc. The elite will own it, but the majority will ignore it.

       

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    DJ Science, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:16pm

    Online Delivery

    While I agree the format war was a huge blow to whichever format would have come out on top, once it was over, I went ahead and purchased a player and started buying new movies in the Blu-Ray format. I work in the entertainment industry and, if nothing else, I can hear the difference between PCM and traditionally compressed film audio. However, this is not the main reason for my purchase.

    The reason is that when I buy a Blu-Ray disc, I know that as long as I take care of the disc and player, I will always be able to watch that movie.

    ISP goes down? I can watch my movie

    Move somewhere where high-speed internet isn't available? I can watch my movie

    Whatever .com company I've dumped money into for years goes out of business? I can watch my movie

    Apple decides streaming movies "Isn't cool anymore"? I can STILL watch my movie!


    Maybe I'm old school, but if I pay for a movie, I'd much rather pay a bit more and have that movie to watch whenever I want, rather than the typical streaming "rental" model. And enough stories have come across this site of services shutting down and people losing the media they've paid for, that I think anyone who would subscribe to such a service must be out of their freaking minds.

    I mean seriously, do you really think every one of those services will have their servers on and running forever?

     

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      Alex, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:30pm

      Re: Online Delivery

      And this right here is a big part of why file-sharing is expanding the way it is. The choice isn't between disks and DRM, and an external HD has a much lower cost and a much more efficient use of physical space than a disk collection. I remember five years ago when the best way to get a downloaded movie to play on TV was to convert it (5-10 hrs) and burn it to DVD, or to do a slightly simpler VCD conversion and play it on my Dreamcast... now I have a laptop that outputs to my HDTV, or I can drag-and-drop convert files and play them directly off my external using the xbox, or watch them on the go with my iPod. No legal solution is this versatile, and any that may be is crippled with the threat of discontinuing, as you said.

      Your point isn't an argument against digital distribution, but against crippling DRM schemes.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:39pm

        Re: Re: Online Delivery

        "an external HD has a much lower cost and a much more efficient use of physical space than a disk collection"

        I agree, 50 GB for a blue ray disk really isn't that much space and blue ray disks are still too expensive (along with the burners and players).

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:41pm

        Re: Re: Online Delivery

        "an external HD has a much lower cost and a much more efficient use of physical space than a disk collection"

        I agree, 50 GB for a blue ray disk really isn't that much space and blue ray disks are still too expensive (along with the burners and players).

         

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      BoloMKXXVIII (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 4:29am

      Re: Online Delivery

      What happens when they decide your disc needs to be authenticated to play and the servers have been turned off?

      ISP goes down and I can still watch the movies I've saved.

      Move someplace high speed isn't available, are you nuts?

      I will not pay for movies I cannot save locally without DRM. I will pay for access to movies. Once I don't have access to new movies, I do not pay any more (like netflix).

       

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      Dennis, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:09am

      Re: Online Delivery Troll alert - or RIAA Bullshit

      So what is the advantage of updating your DVD Collection. DVD has all the same advantages that BLU-RAY does at a fraction of the price

       

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      Yakko Warner, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:59am

      Re: Online Delivery

      It's also trivial to take a stack to the DVD player built-in to the minivan for a road trip. (Although I suppose if I had a portable digital video player, like a video iPod, I could do that, too -- but I don't, and I don't see the need to buy a new device when I have the DVD player already.)

      And I still haven't seen a digital file that supports multiple video angles, different language tracks, director commentaries, deleted scenes, captions (including "commentary" captions), or other bonus features that you get on a DVD disc.

       

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      Cody Jackson (profile), Jun 27th, 2009 @ 12:50am

      Re: Online Delivery

      But what about the DRM Sony put in the BD spec that can "cripple" a disc if it is pirated and becomes available on the 'net?

      IIRC, these movies can be killed by a special code sent to your player via its Ethernet port (assuming you are connected to the 'net) or by simply viewing a BD movie that has the latest list of "verboten movies". The code is written to the firmware of the player itself.

      Not to mention the fact that you have to jump through hurdles to copy/convert the BD file to hard drive or another format. It's possible, but not nearly as easy as DVDs.

       

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    Carlos, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:19pm

    I feel that the most important problem with Blu-Ray is that the discs and the equipment are too expensive for most consumers since most don't care that much about video quality.

    If I have the option of obtaining a dvd by 10 dollars or a blu-ray for 30. I will buy the dvd for 10 even though I can clearly see and appreciate the difference between both standards.

    I feel the same thing happens with the online crowd. They just get it online instead.

    If they dropped the price of blu-ray discs, probably sales would increase (they would get my money at least).

     

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      Dead Not Sleeping, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:02pm

      Re:

      While I agree that Blu-rays are too expensive, you can get them pretty much for $20.00 I want the price to come down. Maybe it can be a few dollars more but I like having the disc.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:20pm

    Kudos for not claiming that more HD-DVD players were sold (which only works if you don't count PS3s as Blu-ray players.)

     

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      Michael Whitetail, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:48pm

      Re:

      Do you have some source to back this up? Most articles I'm seeing on this topic claim a slightly better HD-DVD pentration than Bluray, but they don't say what units were counted and what were not....

       

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      doubledeej (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:45pm

      Re:

      The PS3 has to be separated out from standalone devices. Not everybody who buys one actually uses it to watch BR movies. (Remember that study a year ago that 60% of PS3 owners didn't even know it could play Blu-ray discs?) But you can pretty much guarantee that everybody who buys a standalone player does so with the intent to watch movies. Amongst dedicated devices, there are still more HD-DVD players out there, mostly because the price dropped like a rock once the format was discontinued.

      That same Harris study you're talking about showed BR and HD-DVD capable devices equal at 14% when you include the PS3 and Xbox 360 add-on device. You can assume people bought the 360 device to watch movies, since it has no other purpose, but the same assumption cannot be made about the PS3.

      The most revealing part of their study, however, seems to have been missed by nearly everyone. Amongst people who do not currently own a Blu-ray playback device, 93% said they are "not likely" to buy one in the next year. The same people indicated they were much more likely to buy and stream movies online. That doesn't bode well for physical formats.

      It seems that Blu is going to be a niche format, much the way that Laserdisc was. Both have/had a superior picture to their competitors, perhaps, but not interesting enough for the masses.

       

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        chris (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 4:23am

        Re: Re:

        The PS3 has to be separated out from standalone devices. Not everybody who buys one actually uses it to watch BR movies. (Remember that study a year ago that 60% of PS3 owners didn't even know it could play Blu-ray discs?) But you can pretty much guarantee that everybody who buys a standalone player does so with the intent to watch movies.

        there is also the corollary: the ps3 costs less than most bluray players. my father in law was talking just a few days ago about how he wants to get a ps3 because it is a better value than a dedicated player because the ps3 can play games as well.

         

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        another mike (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

        Re: Re:

        More corollaries. The Wii is outselling Xbox and Playstation combined, and regular DVDs still outsell Blu-Ray by I think it was about 100 to 1.

         

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    Michael, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:20pm

    Personally, I don't see why so many people prefer streaming movies/downloading unless they are pirating. Quality isn't nearly as good and to store HD files takes up way to much hard drive space. I have a nice 50 inch 1080p LCD and Im going to get the most out of it. If that means buying Blu-ray so be it. Not to mention when I spend my money on something I like to at least have something physical so at least I feel a little better about how much I spend on movies and games.

     

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      Big Al, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:34pm

      Re:

      I think the point is that streaming movies are starting to take the place of the rental store and TV station. Most people don't have a huge library of DVDs - I know many that will watch a movie once only, so what is the point of buying it? If they want to see a particular item they just go to Blockbuster or wherever and rent it for the night.

       

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        DJ Science, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:47pm

        Re: Re:

        Exactly. I know a lot of my friends are like that, and for them streaming movies is a great solution. However, other friends (as well as myself) pride ourselves on having access to a great movie-theater(esque) experience whenever we want it.

        As a consumer, why is it that I'm made to feel "greedy" for wanting to OWN a copy of media? If I've paid for a physical copy of something (Blu-Ray, CD, hell, even VideoDisc), I legally have access to it whenever and wherever I want. Suppose I buy a HD copy of "Taken" off of the Apple iTunes Store, and then iTunes goes down for maintenance? To have access to my movie during that period, I'd have to circumvent DRM (breaking the DMCA). Sony could go up in flames tomorrow, and on Saturday, I'd still be able to watch my Blu-Ray copy of the same movie. THAT (plus the Audio and Video quality increase) is what I am paying a premium for.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 6:35am

        Re: Re:

        Guess I am not "most people." I am in the minority...again.

         

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      Alex, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:39pm

      Re:

      I realize it's kinda dumb to feel this way on a techie blog, if I'm coming off as overly critical I apologize, but

      I feel the urge to ask you if the money you spend on movies and games is doing much for your quality of life. You spent a ton of money on a huge TV, maybe more than you were comfortable spending, and now it requires a constant investment to justify itself. "Going to get the most out of it" and "feel[ing] a little better about how much [you] spend" make it sound like you don't get much real enjoyment out of these things.

      If this is out of line, again, I apologize. But if it rings true, think about breaking the cycle and putting the money you'd spend on disks, and the time watching them, towards community service or something. Learn to make movies, instead of watching them, maybe. You sound like you're asking for someone to push you along

       

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      The Truth Beacon, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:58pm

      Re:

      "Personally, I don't see why so many people prefer streaming movies/downloading unless they are pirating. Quality isn't nearly as good and to store HD files takes up way to much hard drive space. I have a nice 50 inch 1080p LCD and Im going to get the most out of it. If that means buying Blu-ray so be it. Not to mention when I spend my money on something I like to at least have something physical so at least I feel a little better about how much I spend on movies and games."

      My collection of HD movies, which are as crystal clear on my 65" 1080P plasma as the very few HD-DVD and Crap-Ray I own, only uses 500gb; and I have a few dozen movies. I buy the DVD so that I can say I contributed, but paying even $20 is ridiculous for most of the garbage out there today.

       

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      chris (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 6:50am

      Re:

      Personally, I don't see why so many people prefer streaming movies/downloading unless they are pirating. Quality isn't nearly as good and to store HD files takes up way to much hard drive space. I have a nice 50 inch 1080p LCD and Im going to get the most out of it.

      in my situation, the size and quality of the screen isn't the issue, it's the sheer number of screens. i need several smaller screens rather than a single large one. streaming to a computer screen happens quite a bit for me and my family, either via youtube, hulu, or off a file server.

      with 5 or more people in a house each with different gaming and viewing needs, that would mean 5+ separate computer and HD setups, which is a ton of space. half of what's supposed to be my living room is a wall with 4 computer desks on it, the other half is a couple of couches in front of a tv.

      at my place, the living room is mostly for video games. the tv is mostly used for consoles. if everyone agrees on watching the same thing we'll watch movies or TV but you just don't see it happening all that often, and it's usually me and my wife after we have commandeered the TV. i am considering a second TV in the living room (opposite the second couch) so you could watch video on one and game on the other.

      a smaller screen in a personal space, like a monitor with headphones or a smaller TV in a bedroom is how most of my family works. a huge TV at my place would be a waste of real estate, unless you could display 4 separate images on it so you could play different consoles and watch different shows at the same time.

      my hope is that larger screen standard def TV's will start flooding craigslist soon and we can upgrade our collection of TV's so that everyone can have a bigger TV in their bedroom and/or we can put 2 or 3 TV's in the living room, but i haven't managed to tackle the audio problem just yet (wireless headphones i guess).

      some day, when i live somewhere that i have the space to dedicate a whole room to a single screen, i will build a big setup with a projector and start downloading in h264, but for the foreseeable future, streaming/downloading in low quality to small screens works best.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:53am

      Re:

      Because we are interested in the movie and not so much as for the quality. Yes they are better quality but I don't care. Streaming video from NetFlix at "high" quality is great for my wife and I. It's just not that important to us.

      As a side note I feel that the movie industry has been way to interested in making "pretty" movies that they forget about the movie story / plot.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:16am

        Re: Re:

        Exactly. Netflix streaming is the best thing ever. For the cost of 4 blu-ray discs, I get a year's access to over 12,000 (and growing) movies, TV series, etc., on demand, when I want them, with all the features I need (pause, rewind, etc.).

        Why subscribe to a stupid movie channel that shows the same 5 movies over and over again for a month when you can have that? Why buy movies that you'll only watch once or twice, when you can watch them any time you want?

        My 56" TV upscales DVD quality content beautifully, sure it isn't technically as good as blu-ray, but for what it costs, it looks great, especially when you're sitting on the other side of the room anyway.

        I just kick on the xbox, browse through the netflix library I've created, and watch what I want, when I want. All for under $10 a month. Unless you've got an overwhelming need to collect things or spend money, there's no reason to buy blu-ray anything...

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:34pm

    Perhaps Blue Ray is not good for movies but optical storage is still the most reliable storage there is to keep data for long periods of time without defects starting to destroy them. So for making long term backups Blue ray is probably still good (assuming it didn't have DRM of course) but the price still needs to drop significantly. Also 50 GB is probably not that much anymore.

     

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    Sos, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:42pm

    I would buy more blueray movies if the discs were cheaper. They sell ffrom between $40 and $60 AUD. Its a joke. If I am buying a license to watch the movie whenever I want why does it cost more for the same movie in a different encoding format?

    Now that I own a blueray player I find myself going to the store, and not buying a blueray movie because I cannot justify spending $50 for something thats also available for $15 in a different format but I dont buy the DVD either because I have a blueray player now.
    So I rent from my local video store for $4.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 12:53am

      Re:

      it just cost me AU$50 to see Star Trek at the imax in Sydney. So the price is not out of line.

      New PS3 games go for AU$100. Crazy. Found a cheap place that looks sketchy but has some used games for 1/2 to 1/3 that.

      Don't get me started on the cost of books here. I have to buy ebooks and strip the DRM so I can read them on my iphone using stanza. Books and magazines cost 3-4x what they cost in the states.

      (I just moved from San Francisco to Sydney - comparably expensive cities to live in, although Sydney humiliates the swill that passes for coffee, in the states)

      I still order DVDs from amazon back in the states, since the region crap means I can't watch aussie disks on my American PS3 (and macmini). I just don't buy BD here at all. Purchased DVDs, I rip onto my 8TB ubuntu file server using handbrake (bye-bye DRM and RCE; just video_ts, no encoding - why bother?) and watch them through various macs around the house (including the mini acting as media player for a 52" LCD). frontrow makes network mounted video_ts folders seamlessly look like DVDs. 800 DVDs and growing. I only rip DVDs I own. But I do strip DRM from everything I own.

      The region coding hurts their business. I can't buy region 1 here and my player only plays region 1. So I don't buy them at all. You just can't argue with that kind of business acumen. Not without going insane yourself.

       

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    Alex, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:52pm

    I wonder if the companies involved really expected Blu-Ray or HD-DVD to be the next DVD. I know my family got a DVD player around 1999, which is ages ago in tech terms, it's possible the execs forgot what a quantum leap that was. For the average consumer, I'm guessing, the major advantage wasn't quality but the fact that you no longer had to rewind, and that you could skip around scenes as easily as tracks on a CD. Sure, the new storage formats offer improvements, higher quality, more extra features, but I don't know anyone who has EVER been swayed to buy a movie for the extra features. Most of my friends will watch a commentary track once or twice, maybe look over the deleted scenes once, and then never bother with them again. As for quality, the adoption rates of HDTVs are still relatively low, and even using one I doubt the difference is worth $20-$30 per disk to most people. The new formats aren't even approaching the leap in convenience of moving from tape to DVD, and so are much less attractive to the average consumer.

     

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      Cody Jackson (profile), Jun 27th, 2009 @ 12:57am

      Re:

      Exactly. The bonus features in normal DVDs are not a selling point for me. BD movies that advertise gobs of special features, especially that BD-Live thing that gets the latest updates online, is worthless to me.

      I rarely watch the special features and when I do, it's only once. How many times do you need to here the director's commentary or view the storyboards? What's even worse is when the commentary tracks aren't even talking about the movie. I don't care about how your kids are doing in Little League; I want to know how/why this particular scene created.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:52pm

    So Blu-ray has been out for 4 or 5 years... how long did it take after DVDs came out before everyone got rid of their VCRs and VHS tapes?

    Give it a couple more years before you assert victory to online sources.

    Maybe producers, in an effort to garner Blu-ray fanatics more quickly, could offer discounts to those who send in their old DVDs for new Blu-ray versions? Nah, that would only hurt this quarter's profits.

     

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    fogbugzd, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 7:59pm

    Consumers didn't behave like the industry though

    The basic problem was that both the HD and BR camps thought that winning the battle would be a license to steal. Using the VCR->DVD conversion as a model, they though that that consumers would pay whatever prices they wanted to ask. There was almost a mindset that customers had to upgrade to the new system, and that massive profits would come flooding in.

    They forgot that consumers saw major advantages of DVD over VHS. A relatively small segment of the public saw much difference between the new technology and their DVD's. In addition, the DVD revolution happened when watching movies at home was one of the primary forms of entertainment. On the other hand the HD/BR conversion happened when people were finding other forms of entertainment, including widespread broadband and better cable TV offerings.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:12pm

    about the only way i see for blu-ray to survive is for sony to license and partner with all the companies it needs to to get a blu-ray burner in every new computer. it could then survive as the preferred data medium. other than that it's going the way of the laser disc.

     

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    Jamie (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:29pm

    I'm surprised that nobody has pointed out yet that there are separate figures for PS3 and standalone Blu-ray players. If you look at the combined figures, market penetration of Blu-ray has gone up from ~9% to ~16%. Considering the price of Blu-ray hardware and the current economic market, this isn't too bad.

    And while streaming HD video may be the future, it's very much the distant future. For this to work, high speed (20Mbps+) internet connections will need to be the norm, and backbones will need enough bandwidth to serve all of the different video streams. It will be several years before the US and western Europe get to this point, and until then physical media will still be an absolute necessity.

     

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      doubledeej (profile), Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:49pm

      Re:

      You can't assume that everybody buying a PS3 does so with the intent to watch Blu-ray movies. Their device might be capable, but we've seen studies that indicate that an alarmingly high percentage of PS3 owners aren't even aware that they can play BR discs on it.

      The numbers I've seen are more like 14%, with the PS3 included, 7% without.

      High speed (>6Mbps) Internet is becoming more and more common. Give it another year or two and it will become the norm for broadband customers.

       

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    James, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:40pm

    best thing they could do is' offer one disc that will play in both blu-ray and dvd. That way you can justify paying the $30 for the disc. Will also be able to be used anywhere. I read an artical not long ago about companies in Japan that were starting to do that.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:17am

      Re:

      "best thing they could do is' offer one disc that will play in both blu-ray and dvd. That way you can justify paying the $30 for the disc. Will also be able to be used anywhere. I read an artical not long ago about companies in Japan that were starting to do that."

      Ironically, that was one of the advantages of HD-DVD, it could support this by design since it was just an extension of the existing DVD format. I doubt this will ever be possible with Bluray, as the data layer for BR is in front of where the DVD data layer is. HD-DVD was also much less expensive to produce the phyical discs since it would work with existing DVD production equipment.

       

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    Ntlgnce, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 8:55pm

    BluRay not catching on!

    That's because American's don't like being forced into a only choice. If Americans were given a choice on which would be the next standard, the better tech would prevail. Take a look at Beta verses VHS. The public needs to decide the next industry standard, and not some company who's making the choice based solely on profit. It was some guy sitting in a office making a choice for All American's and not the American's choosing the next great tech.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:02pm

    Once HD-DVD lost I picked up the MS one for the 360/PC for $30 with a few movies and the only thing I cared to have in HD on disc the Planet Earth series. I watch most of my movies on a 7" Chinese Chuwi PMP either on it's screen while traveling or hooked to a TV using its component out. It can play movies up to 720p and I really don't need anything else.

    Not too mention with all the crap Sony has pulled on consumers over the years I won't support them by buying anything they make. I haven't bought a single thing by them for quite a few years now.

     

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    Steveorevo, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:05pm

    50gigs and then some

    Until I can get 50 gigs of beautiful content in a heart beat online (or off) I think blue ray is the best it gets (so far). Keep in mind that you are getting a near master copy that makes any director nervous about releasing it into the wild (much less online).

    Last I checked, the quality of supposed 'HD' online video wasn't all that. Don't get me wrong, 720p from iTunes looks fantastic ...and the wait... well, again 1080p at the flick of a disc still wins in my heart. Sorry, but I just don't see bluray disappearing anytime soon.

     

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    lulz, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 10:45pm

    as the market was already beginning to recognize that disc-based storage made less and less sense

    I'm skeptical of download-only stuff because there is still a substantial enough amount of people that want to buy storage-based content. Also, digital downloads for movies and games kill the whole reselling thing that i'm a big fan of. I want to own and sell my digital media, not just have a license to enjoy it.

     

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    yogi, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 12:28am

    Blue Ray is too good

    Some things I don't want to see in such clear detail...

     

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    R. Miles (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 3:44am

    Plastic disks: Who needs them!

    Flat screen TV sales, air travel, and about 101 other things are also seeing "sharp declines".
    This comment caught my eye, so I wanted to add my two cents against it.

    DVD sales, both standard and Blu-Ray, have been in decline for years, and the economy has nothing to do with it. If we are to measure the sales of plastic disks against all other areas of finance, then the disk is suffering from a great depression comparatively.

    Online streaming/downloading, whether legal or not, has seen a massive increase in just two years. I'm pretty confident the DVD sales drop isn't having a "coincidental moment" for its decline.

    Walmart and BestBuy, along with other retailers, are no longer stockpiling DVDs and will only carry "popular" titles. The reason for this is simple: merchandise isn't moving fast enough.

    If the industry is out to get me to buy a new DVD player, they're going after the wrong person. I simply won't do it. Not only due to cost (both player and movie), but there's no reason to. I haven't purchased a movie in years.

    Blu-Ray was dead the moment it was conceptualized. Why so much money was wasted on this remains a mystery to me.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 6:21am

      Re: Plastic disks: Who needs them!

      The problem is you cannot compared sales of a product with use of a product.

      If you look at sales of ipods, example, they peak every new model, and then drop off. Does that drop indicate that they are no longer popular with people and no longer in use? No, it is the indication of a saturated market.

      My point for "Flat screen TV sales, air travel, and about 101 other things are also seeing "sharp declines"." is that in an economic downturn, it is hard to draw cause-effect conclusions based only on sales data. Sales has nothing to do with actual use.

      It might be more interesting to look at sales data of blank shiny discs, example, or the number of people who have installed TiVO style devices during the same period to see if there is a shift there, example.

      Basically, Mike selected a couple of narrow data points, and jumped pretty far to reach a conclusion that isn't supported by all the evidence. Once again, he states as fact something that actually is opinion.

       

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    Strider, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:15am

    I'm assuming extras that come with store bought discs (e.g., documentaries, deleted scenes, alternative endings, etc.) are not included with downloaded movies. If not then BluRay will continue to have a market because there will always be people interested in more than just watching the movie.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:12am

    All my content is going digital - USB Sticks, wireless Media Players, etc.
    Hell as soon as I buy a DVD the first thing I do is copy it to the Hard Drive. That saves the master disk from the kids chewing on it (Yes I have DVD with the kids teeth marks on them!). Once digital I can put it on my iPod, stream it my media Center enabled TV, etc.

    The DVD quality is 'good enough' for my needs and it enables me to do what I want with the product I bought and own.

     

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    Strider, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:45am

    For the movie enthusiast BluRay would be the way to go because of the image and sound quality relative to DVD.

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:01am

    The Limits of Image Quality

    Four hundred years ago, William Shakespeare had the last word on special effects:

    "On your imaginary forces work.
    Suppose within the girdle of these walls
    Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
    Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
    The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
    Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;"

    http://shakespeare.mit.edu/henryv/henryv.1.0.html

    There inevitably comes a point where the image quality is good enough. Not perfect, but good enough to convey the message, to trigger the viewer's imagination. This applies to high-end video game machines, hence the phenomena of the Wii, but it also applies to Blue-ray, and to a good many other things. The movie studios naturally hate the idea that a movie should be small enough to travel via Kazaa. They tend to push high resolution simply as a means to keep the movie bulk enough that they can retain control of it. Hardware companies want to sell hardware. Microsoft wants computers to be expensive enough that no one notices an extra two hundred dollars for the operating system.However, they are all up against the law of diminishing returns.

     

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    Ed, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:50pm

    This pool is obviouly wrong

    HD-DVD cannot be 11% of the market since only 1M had been sold as of march 2008 http://www.thelookandsoundofperfect.com/_inc/hddvd/news/01-06-2008-CES2008.pdf
    Also, a growth from 1% to 3% in the external xbox hd-dvd add-on between 2008 and 2009 also doesn't make sense, and would imply 3 in 13 xbox owners have the add-on, at least 5 million units.
    I am not sure if the respondents didnt understand the question or if their don't represent the general population, but this data is plainly wrong.

     

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    Amillennialist, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 2:36am

    Blu-ray adoption is economics-driven

    The reason Blu-ray adoption is "slow" (though, from what I've read elsewhere, it's comparable to DVD's when it first appeared) is because of its cost.

    Who chooses inferior quality, all other things being equal?

    Of course we can only speculate, but if the PS3 and the Wii were the same price, how would sales figures differ?

    The investment necessary to fully enjoy Blu-ray is steep: 1080P television (the bigger, the better), a player (PS3 is great -- not only Blu-ray and games, but media streaming and Internet browsing), a receiver that can handle lossless audio, surround sound speakers, and the movies.

    The quality difference between a proper Blu-ray transfer and DVD is huge. Dark Knight, Cars, 300. (Can't wait for The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions.)

    I don't want to waste money either, so I rent movies from Redbox for a dollar to see if I like it.

    If I like it enough, I buy it.

     

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    kevin, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 3:10am

    standards

    I think the reason Blu-Ray has not taken off is simple. Or rather complex. The standards, or offers from the players are constantly changing. Also the rental and purchase prices of the discs cost more than normal DVD. I purchased a Blu-Ray player.. and already the new ones seem to have way more features and are quicker. Mine is slow as hell to get up and running. We get half through dinner before the movie even starts.
    Also, to get the maximum benefit from Blu-Ray, you have to not only update your TV, but also your sound system/reciever. Now you have shelled out 2K for a great TV, 230 for a player, and now you have to buy a new reciever to replace the great one you already have... and possibly get another speaker or two. That and the fact that the standards for players does not seem to have settled... Why bother... is what most people I know say. Blu-Ray Definitely looks better! But when you remember the movie you saw in Blu-Ray, High def or not, it makes no difference.

     

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    andrew, Jul 13th, 2009 @ 8:52am

    The main problem is GREED. Folks see blu ray as a pushy, greedy way for sony (and others) to line their pockets when the economy is struggling people wont put up with someone telling them "you MUST upgrade - by forking over all your hard earned cash for something you DONT really need" Yeah right. Sony just got greedy. They thought if they brainwash people and say you NEED this for 400 bucks people would say YES, we do. Just like our Auto Industry. when will they learn people are not dumb and they will tolerate only so much BS before saying ENOUGH.

     

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    Smart and Thrifty Engineer, Aug 6th, 2009 @ 4:21am

    Throw your discs in the trash.

    The main problem is lack of Conscience, or really it's arrogance on our part. Assuming we can tell the difference between subtleties that aren't about quality and more about what we think of as quality, is a mistake. It's like people who drink expensive wine and waste hundreds of dollars, when really a mixed grape wine can sometimes have a better season for all the left over grapes, and it costs around 5 bucks for a good bottle. Would you eat a mixed berry pie? Some of the logic of expensive crap is really just BS. Same goes for gear heads.

    The technology of Blue-Ray is superior if you have great ears(very uncommon), great eyes, the best TV on the market, the most expensive speakers with true clarity from 40hz to 120hz, have it set up properly, have your room spectral analyzed so you don't create meaningless echo... All of that stuff.

    I am an audio engineer and I can tell if a room is an inch off, but none of my wealthy, and might I add, "know it all" friends can tell the difference. I just laugh at them. It's as bad as some of their shitty 80s era wine.

    We should throw our discs in the trash, unless we have all the gear and the brains to handle the gear. PCM is meaningless on speakers that are less than 3 grand- Dead Serious. 48khz is plenty, but we buy into the PCM, the 192khz and 96khz sampling rates. It's the same garbage all the time. Why do you all have mp3 players then and use them to dj on the same speakers? Those are 44.1khz and they're sampled back.

    In the end, It's environmentally caustic, and discs have artifacts too. You can serve movies from a server for like 5 years, and the cost per movie stored to the environment is going to be less, and always going to improve. Plus, there is no physical delivery. Think about driving to Frys or Best Buy to get a disc. It's a total waste of gas. Or, the cost of mail. Netflix gets it.

    Just drink a glass of wine or three and then let it blur a bit. I guaranty you'll be glad you saved your money at whole foods on the 5-15 bottle, and at Magnolia on the 3 grand for speakers.

    Much Love

     

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    Steve, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 5:42am

    Lol disc/tape based media will never die

    Lol disc/tape based media will never die, only geeky spotty techno nerds love non portable media, probably because they venture out of their musty sperm smelly rooms much.

    Ask some normal people what they think, normal as in non-virgins with kids rofl.

     

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    fhghgh54, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:30pm

    Digital downloads may be the future but it has so many flaws the benefits and convience of physical (disc) makes it dominant.

    Flaws

    -No resale. Especially in games.

    -Lazy business model. Notice how on PSN Mass Effect 2 still costs $59.99 Ebay/amazon value...20

    - Some gimmick or overpriced. Directv movies for example -$5 or a whopping 30 for theatre ones....my ass! Subscription stuff, ads, attempts to prevent saving/using off software/etc... leaves you to do the work of unstupidfying it.

    -Dependent on your computer many times or a special device the majority won't have (game console for example). Many people work with computers so much they are just sick of them. Tv has a diffy feel to it - the two mixed isn't a good thing for all.

    Honestly the only digital services I ever use (rarely) or have used is ripped stuff like its on the big screen and I find a promo dvd someone uploaded online - I have the flu and don't want to go out.


    Digital may have a real future - if they make the price very low (.99 for a movie/.05 a song), service almost instant, remove the "rental/subscription crap people don't like to keep up with" and actually keep it current (same release as theater for example)

    Its a total joke digital content mimicks the full retail price of the phyiscal item. If anything it should be 1/2 or 1/3 as it is much less valuable to the consumer (no resell,less expense for them,usually depend on some silly system/screwed for hdd/system failure)

     

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