Evidence Mounts That Blu-ray Will Struggle

Winning a format war doesn't mean it will beat out standard DVDs and newer competitors.

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Blu-ray won't replace DVDs as the leading format for selling and renting movies to consumers, says Stewart Wolpin at Digital Tech Consulting. He says there just isn't enough juice in the new format for consumers to plunk down several hundred dollars to make the switch.

"DTC does not expect Blu-ray to represent any more than a third of all DVD devices sold five years hence," he writes.

His prediction comes on the heels of reports from NPD and ABI Research that sales of Blu-ray players are sluggish, despite Blu-ray's victory in the format war when Toshiba pulled the plug on competitor HD DVD.

Wolpin's bearish take has roots in past, failed formats. Historically, higher resolution hasn't been enough to replace a media format. Think S-VHS and digital audiotapes, as well as higher-resolution CD formats like SACD and DVD-Audio that foundered.

Those that did succeed offered more than just better resolution. Blu-ray doesn't bring more convenience or longer play, as did CDs over vinyl records and DVDs over VHS.

Many analysts, though, aren't ready to count out Blu-ray. Studios and retailers will push the format, particularly once players start selling for about half their current starting price of around $400. But most agree that if Blu-ray doesn't get rolling in the next year or two, it's unlikely to prevail over a rising wave of digital competitors.


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