Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blu-Ray can't get a break

First it was the Blu-Ray/HD DVD war, then it was overpriced players and software that didn't support all of Blu-Ray's interactive feature. Now, the economy is tanking. Blu-Ray player Christmas sales probably won't hit even the conservative estimates from a few months back, and the Playstation 3, which has been the primary driver of Blu-Ray adoption, remains locked in third place. Last month, despite still having constrained supplies, the Nintendo Wii sold almost three times as many units as the Playstation 3 in the U.S.

More than ever, I believe that Blu-Ray will be a transitional technology, the last physical consumer medium before VOD and downloads take over. Blu-Ray won't knock out DVDs, even with dropping player and software prices. The party is just about over. If you want a Playstation 3 or need to replace your DVD player and can get a good Blu-Ray deal, then by all means buy one, but otherwise, save your money.

Update, October 20, 2008: According to Punchjump, over the weekend, Best Buy cut the price of its least-expensive store-brand Blu-Ray player to $199.99. Target's cheapest Blu-Ray player is $229.99. Neither of these players are Profile 2.0, which means that they don't have all the interactive and Internet features of more recent models, but I'm coming to believe that those features don't really matter. If you want an Internet connection, buy a Playstation 3. However, Blu-Ray player prices have further to drop, especially given the recession. It's not out of the question to see a Blu-Ray player priced at under $100 before the end of the Christmas season; that's the time to buy.

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