You might be asking, ‘Didn’t they already win?’ In a sense they did, atleast they beat out HD-DVD for sole possession of the HD movie format. But that’s in the physical sense. Will Blu-Ray eventually be beaten out by digital downloads, or is it all what I refer to as ‘tech sector’ hype?
The question has been raised by a couple of bloggers who have been debating the issue. First, is Robin Harris of ZDNet. He believes that Sony is too slow in dropping the prices of the Blu-ray movies being released. Blu-Ray also has high costs for production, which limits what studios can release films on Blu-Ray. In the other corner we have, Bill Hunt of Digital Bits. Hunt agrees with some of the points that Harris makes but believes that they are taken to an extreme, and Blu-Ray’s death isn’t imminent.
Although I’m not giving Sony a free pass to ignore its problems, I mainly agree with Hunt. This generation just isn’t ready for downloading exclusively for their content. You have the tech savvy bunch who know the glorious wonders of downloads and how they can be used for viewing (even on a TV). That’s just a small portion of the consumer pie though. Most of the people who are controlling the wealth equate ownership with a physical product. In some ways I agree with them. There’s just something about owning a DVD, CD that can’t be replaced by owning a file.
I think the big factor that both bloggers are missing is; who Hollywood is backing? I think most of the industry would be heavily distraught if downloaded content overtook physical property. How many jobs would be lost if there was no manufacturing of products, and everything was a download? I don’t think the entertainment industry will allow that to happen. Even if it would induce piracy.
Dare I say that the good ol’ DVD format will be the eventual winner. I used to work at Best Buy, and I can’t tell you how many people just didn’t care about the hi-def upgrade. Their reasoning was that paying $1000-$2000 for upgrading to HD just wasn’t worth it. Who can blame them really? With the economy in the tanker as it is, technology just isn’t as important as in years past.
So, in conclusion I agree that Blu-Ray is far from death. I think Harris’ article wouldn’t have sparked a debate if he had titled it, “Blu-ray will be dead” instead of inferring it had already met its maker. I do think that Blu-Ray has a chance of failing if they don’t catch up to consumer concerns. But if they don’t then I think we’ll just continue to see success in the DVD format. Downloadable content might be a god-send to some, but it’s far from being the norm. That won’t change for quite some time.