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Study Concludes Blu-ray Not Red-Hot

by May 15, 2008

Consumer studies have been concluding that the general public just isn’t ready to rush out and go Blu since the HD format war has ended. We can probably all agree that focus groups and marketing brain-trusts aren’t going to help Blu-ray, but lower prices certainly will. 

Late last month ABI Research made some waves in high-def news circles when it concluded that Blu-ray isn’t going to dominate the home video market until prices came way down. While we can already hear the collective, sarcastic DUHs – another more recent study provided more detail about where Blu-ray stands today.

ABI Research concluded last month that players need to drop below $200 per unit for Blu-ray to really take off. It also noted that PlayStation 3 units “make up over 85 percent of Blu-ray players in the field.”

A recent study by Harris Interactive surveyed 2,529 people last month. A Harris poll consists of a cross section of Americans from various states, aged 18 and over. There were some interesting results of America’s HD consumer habits:

  • 87% of those surveyed owned a DVD player.
  • 4% owned a Dedicated Blu-ray player.
  • 5% owned a PS3.
  • 6% owned an HD DVD player, perhaps just a survey anomaly or maybe HD DVD was on the threshold of some serious consumer inroads.
  • 9% said they were likely to buy a Blu-ray player in the next year.
  • 35% said they owned an HDTV - it looks like HDTV has some work to do.
  • Of those who own an HDTV, 10% own a Blu-ray player.
  • 67% said they knew about the recently resolved format war. Of that 67%, 69% said they knew Blu-ray was the winner.

It’s probably not surprising to Audioholics readers that Blu-ray player sales didn’t spike as soon as the format war concluded. This might have been an impression carried by a few market analysts, but it makes some bold assumptions.

For one, there was never a segment of consumer waiting with baited breath for the format war’s conclusion to rush out and buy a new machine. It’s possible that Sony and Toshiba convinced themselves of this optimistic view. But most third party market researchers like ABI believes it’ll be 12 to 18 months before the Blu-ray market picks up.

The numbers might indicate that the consumer confusion around the format war was just a cherry atop a veritable cake of confusion the consumer has about HD and disc technology. But even without confusion, DVD is just too good a deal right now for most consumers to pass up!

A combination of economic slowdown and high prices of players and media will keep Blu-ray a niche product for some time. Once we begin to see sub-$200 players and discs commonly sold at near $10 then you’ll be speaking to the bottom line of the average American consumer. First it has to be affordable – then the Joe Six Packs might actually care about the difference between 480p and 1080p with lossless sound.

About the author:

Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

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Recent Forum Posts:

Pyrrho posts on May 21, 2008 13:52
billy p, post: 414730
Not that I am hoping BR fails, but the AV industry has being known to change course? Heh.. look no further than SACD, DVD-A, and Laser Disc just to name a few? As for the “nay-sayer” who are the majority of us BR will never become mainstream untill it becomes more viable and affordable and I for one to this point am glad I've missed the boat.


Of course there will be something new at some point in the future; that is necessary for progress. This means that, eventually, something will replace Blu-Ray. But that will probably be many years in the future. In the mean time, the best picture you can get in consumer products for the U.S. market is Blu-Ray (or an old HD-DVD player). For a glimpse into the possible future, take a look at:

http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44276

I am a bit puzzled why people are always bashing Laserdisc, as it was the best U.S. home video format from the end of 1978 until 1997, when DVD appeared on the market. It was never popular because the discs were always expensive, and the players were always expensive. There are technical reasons for this (in part, it was due to the size of the discs, as a laserdisc player must be vastly more robust than a DVD player). Be that as it may, for people with money, it was a great format for the time. The format remained the best U.S. consumer format longer than DVD did (DVD was the best format for less than 10 years). Perhaps you should instead be complaining that DVD is just a flash in the pan.

As for changing course, we can say that the industry is doing just that with TVs themselves. The old format of broadcasting will be gone in less than a year. Undoubtedly, the current HD and other digital broadcasts will not last forever, either. But that is no reason not to buy a HDTV or a tuner to receive the new broadcasts. The format (actually, formats, as there are multiple ways that they broadcast digitally now) will most likely last longer than the vast majority of TVs made today. But it would be foolish to think that they will last forever.


As an aside, I keep using the phrase, “for the U.S. consumer market” because there are better formats for picture quality. A good 35mm film is better than Blu-Ray, and, of course, 70mm film is much better than 35mm. But they are not convenient for most consumers, and are not made for consumers to use in their homes.
Jack Hammer posts on May 21, 2008 11:44
billy p, post: 414730
…I for one to this point am glad I've missed the boat.

The boat hasn't sailed and left you behind. It's still loading up passengers and they've brought a few more boats in case more people want to get on board. And the best part is the newer boats are selling tickets for less money.

Jack
mouettus posts on May 21, 2008 11:11
Why would someone oppose to a new technology, or this technology to succeed? I don't understand. Better image and sound… whats wrong with that. Isn't that what we're all looking for?

“let's bi-wire my speakers but i don't want any of this BR crap in my house!!”
BMXTRIX posts on May 21, 2008 10:51
billy p, post: 414730
Not that I am hoping BR fails, but the AV industry has being known to change course? Heh.. look no further than SACD, DVD-A, and Laser Disc just to name a few? As for the “nay-sayer” who are the majority of us BR will never become mainstream untill it becomes more viable and affordable and I for one to this point am glad I've missed the boat.
I'm not sure at what point DVD-A or SACD owned 2%+ of the audio market with signs of growth pushing towards upwards of 8% of the audio market as we are seeing with BD. This arguement was one the Clint used early on and I have always thought was lousy as DVD-A and SACD aren't in the same league as BD.

Laser Disc was a viable ‘niche’ format for something like 28 years. VHS owned the market, but was displaced by DVD. There are any number of things which could come along and replace DVD, but Digital Downloads and Blu-ray are the front runners.

I think it's more silly to think that neither BD or HDDL has a viable chance of actually replacing DVD.

I do think you are dead on with your thoughts on pricing - it's exactly what DVD will need to do to replace VHS, and what VHS will need to do to become common in homes, and what CD will need to do to replace the record/cassette tape.

In simple terms, if someone (not you) thinks it won't happen, they certainly don't have a lot of historical support of that notion.
billy p posts on May 21, 2008 10:31
rgriffin25, post: 414629
Why is it that those of us that own the BD players believe in the format and those who don't doubt its chance of survival? Seriously guys, until you have experienced it on a daily basis you don't know what your missing.

for you “Nay-Sayers”.. it looks like your friends at walmart have stepped up their game as far as blu-ray support goes. Tonight while getting groceries with my wife, I stoped in to browse the games / movie section.. and to my suprise there waWell, I have good news s a whole row dedicated to Blu-ray. In addition to this row of movies with prices as low as $12.99 ( many for $14.99 to 19.99) there was a new sub $300 player available. From what most of you non owners have ben reporting is that BD needs to be below $300 by Christmas to have any chance of survival. Last I checked its the middle of May..

I would also have to agree with BMX, the whole industry is behind the format now, with more and more new releases coming out all the time. Blu-ray is not going to disappear anytime soon!

Not that I am hoping BR fails, but the AV industry has being known to change course? Heh.. look no further than SACD, DVD-A, and Laser Disc just to name a few? As for the “nay-sayer” who are the majority of us BR will never become mainstream untill it becomes more viable and affordable and I for one to this point am glad I've missed the boat.
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