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Yet Another Doom Article about Blu-ray Disc

Posted by Dave Cowl on September 15, 2008 
Filed Under: Blu-ray, Downloads, Format War, HD DVD, Interactivity, Rental



Today I see another article predicting the doom of Blu-ray, this time by 2012.

I figured it was just another article based on the so called Samsung prediction, but it turns out it is actually based on a number of additional premises.

In any case, I thought it might be fun to check them out one by one and see if anything holds water.

1) HD Movie downloads

Apparently HD Movie downloads are expected to help kill Blu-ray by 2012.

This assumes that you can change the buying habits of everyone, get everyone a suitable device for downloads, get everyone a high bitrate internet connection and do all of in less than 5 years, sufficiently that the studios give up on Blu-ray Disc.

On the other hand you can read that around 97 percent of revenues for content sales in Western Europe will come from DVD and Blu-ray this year, leaving only three percent from legal video download services.

I agree that downloads will increase in market share, especially with the tech savvy, but in reality downloads, especially high quality HD downloads, have a long way to go before they kill packaged media.

2) BD Live is a joke

This is where the author shows his hand as a disgruntled HD DVD supporter, claiming that BD Live is a joke and HD DVD had better interactivity.

The reality is of course that BD Live is capable of doing anything that can be written in java code, which means anything HD DVD did – and more.

To say this will help sink the format assumes the the success of the format hinges on BD-Live – where in reality internet interactivity for movies would seem to me to be only a small part of the incentive for the format, hence the choice given to customers to buy cheaper players that don’t include the feature.

3) Samsung Thinks it is Finished

Granted one person at Samsung apparently gave a lifespan of 5 to 10 years in a Pocket Lint interview.

Of course he then goes on to say that it is going to be huge in 2008.

Huge in 2008 – dead by 2013 – an interesting prediction.

Personally I think the poor Samsung guy got spun – when you read the quote, “I think it [Blu-ray] has 5 years left”, it doesn’t say left as what… maybe he meant ‘reigning champion’ or ‘highest revenue earner’ as opposed to ‘left alive’.

In any case, he is entitled to an opinion I guess.

4) Sony thinks Blu-ray is finished

The author then references this article regarding a statement from Sony that Blu-ray is the end of the line for optical disc.

The Sony statement I inherently agree with. Blu-ray will likely be the last generation of optical disc. There are no clear paths to higher capacity, other than adding layers – in which case it is still Blu-ray disc.

I can also see Blu-ray getting extensions like 3D and 4k resolution – again it will still be Blu-ray.

Of course, saying that this is the last optical disc, isn’t a prediction of doom and doesn’t give any time line for the life or death of Blu-ray – it just says that the next media won’t be a disc – be it 5 years in the future or 20…

5. DVD is good enough

This is perhaps my favourite – he goes on to show that the BDA is claiming that in the USA, Blu-ray will have 61% market share versus DVD in 2012.

Apparently this somehow supports his case that Blu-ray will be dead in 2012.

This data is of course from a Futuresource Consulting press release back in August, and not from the BDA per se.

None the less it is interesting to think that the author sees Blu-ray having over 60% of the US market in 2012 is in some way equivalent to the death of the format.

While he seems to see other technologies growing rampantly, apparently he expects Blu-ray to stay static for the next 4 years, and then die.

So, what do you think? Valid points? Raving lunatic? Disgruntled Toshiba lover annoyed that his format died?

I kind of side with the latter based on the BD Live comment.

Personally I see Blu-ray having a decent run at it. We see how long it took for the CEs and studios to adopt DVD over VHS. And how long it took for a valid high def format (or two) to eventuate at all.

The CEs particlularly have invested a lot in the Blu-ray format and will want to see a return on that investment.

Rather than see Blu-ray die, I see the future where the Blu-ray player is actually capable of handling new media types. We already see this happening with the Panasonic players handling SDHC flash cards and the LG player handling Netflix streaming.

It doesn’t stretch my imagination to see Blu-ray players (or recorders like in Japan) that have sat or cable recievers, hard drive for PVR or download storage, net connection for BD Live and download/streaming and a slot for any number of flash based storage media.

Then the consumer can choose to capture a source from HBO, stream it from Netflix, or rent or buy the Blu-ray for the highest quality version of a give movie with all of the extras. I already make these kinds of choices on a per title basis, though not with a single box.

Of course the market will have to be shared – but I think that Blu-ray has plenty of life in it yet.

What do you think? Comments are there to share and enjoy…

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  2. Rudy Maxa Turns Blu with Questar
  3. Paramount’s HD DVD Decision Decried by Analysts
  4. Blu-ray Backers Launch Promotional Campaign
  5. 10 Reasons Why Physical Media Owns!

Comments

11 Responses to “Yet Another Doom Article about Blu-ray Disc”

  1. webdev511 on September 15th, 2008 10:43 pm

    Um, more layers on a BD, isn’t Blu-Ray? Even if 1080p downloads take off, I doubt that 4k is going to be a download candidate in the next 10 years. We aren’t ready for 20GB downloads let alone 200GB downloads.

    BD-Live isn’t a Joke, but how it and BD-Java are currently being used is.

    Studio: So what can I do on this title with BD-Java?
    Developer: Anything you want.
    Studio: What do you mean “Anything” ?
    Developer: Just that, anything you want.
    Studio: Do have I have to do anything in particular?
    Developer: Not if you don’t want to.
    Studio: Okay, what should I do?
    Developer: Whatever you’d like to do.

    HDi was far from perfect, but by limiting the the scope of what could be done and calling out some minimum requirements of what HAD to be done, so HD DVD at least had a base level of uniformity.

    The only studios I’ve seen release titles with consistently good menus are Paramount, Universal and Warner. Any surprise that these are all studios that were all releasing on HD DVD? Nope. They’ve got a template ported over from HD DVD that works. When they want to go beyond the template they can bring in the BD-Java crew and extend it.

    Here we are nearly 9 months after the plug was pulled on HD DVD and it’s still a more polished and complete (albeit dead) spec.

    Come on Blu, get a move on! (not you Fox, you couldn’t consistently release high quality HD titles even if the fate of the planet hung in the balance.)

  2. Jonsson on September 15th, 2008 10:56 pm

    This latest doom article is just so full of BS and lies that it is unbelievable. The guy that wrote it must have an IQ of a hamster.

    As Dave says, most likely a disgruntled HD-DVD fan (and a really really stupid one as well).

  3. Dave Cowl on September 15th, 2008 11:53 pm

    Jonsson,

    I agree somewhat – I was loathe to link to the post but it did get me thinking so I figured it was worth it.

    It does bring up the point that Blu-ray is dragging its heals somewhat with respect to interactivity and also that the landscape ahead holds more competitors than just whatever the next format might be.

    However I don’t see why any of the DL/streaming can’t be included with the Blu-ray player / media center of the future. It makes sense to just have one box – the PS3 is kinda in that position already…

  4. Mehar Gill on September 16th, 2008 6:04 am

    Would you guys call 2012 a more reasonable date if the succesor was not Digital Downloads but the flash type technology that companies are working on currently?

  5. webdev511 on September 16th, 2008 7:46 am

    @Mehar Gill
    Nothing is going anywhere by 2012 until HDTV sets have better penetration. Even Blu is just going to meander along until after the majority of households have 1080p sets and BD players are $199 or less.

    Even if Flash has 4k resolution, it will mean bupkis if there aren’t any consumer level displays for it.

    My prediction is that people will rent via streaming/download and if they really like the content (TV show, movie) they will buy it on Blu. So what it really all means is that companies that depend on brick and mortar rentals are going to be SOL. Say goodbye to Blockbuster and Hollywood Video as you know them. After they fade away, the only way we’ll be able to rent at a store is via Red Box.

  6. Jonsson on September 16th, 2008 8:04 am

    I would think it would be extremely unlikely that Blu-ray disapears and is replaced by something else so soon. If it does, well then it will never really have taken off at all by then which would disapoint me.

    I that asking the consumers to change format AGAIN, so soon would alienate them incredibly. Not even the movie studios would be stupid enough to pull such a stunt (I hope).

  7. Dave Cowl on September 16th, 2008 9:06 am

    @mehar

    I don’t doubt that it is technically possible, but the time frame is wrong.

    Two reasons – the cost of flash will not be low enough in that time frame and also the consumer resistance to yet another format in such a short time frame.

    I tend to agree with webdev – we will see downloads erode the physical rentals and people will buy Blu-ray for keepers.

    It will be interesting to see where they go with flash – a number of the players already support SDHC and it would make sense to go that way, but it may actually be too small for some consumers and/or retailers.

    Remember how they packaged CDs in long boxes because the jewel boxes were considered too small? Flash may have to overcome such barriers.

    That said, some form of solid state will likely be the next big thing – perhaps in the 2015 time frame.

    With respect to 4k – sorry (?!) to say that 4k is closer than most people think with respect to displays – I would expect to have a number of front projector options for 4k in 2010/2011 time frame.

  8. webdev511 on September 16th, 2008 11:58 am

    @Dave Cowl
    Flash really is the wild card. If the memory manufacturers can get the capacity up and price down, it has a real chance at taking off.

    The tricky part will be how you go from renting a movie via flash to owning. If it’s not secure the studios won’t go for it. If the content isn’t portable enough, consumers won’t buy it.

    If those are resolved, I can see the day where we would step up to a Red Box, insert an SDHC card into the slot and have the content loaded on to it. Take it home, pop it into my HTPC or approved device, watch it, choose to buy or not. Keep the card with the locked content on it for as long as you like. If you want to rent it again or purchase it, you may. If not then you can just wipe it and use it the next time you rent.

    As far as size goes, there will always be something physical for the brick and mortar folks to sell. Rent / buy from Red Box, you just get the movie. Buy from brick and mortar and you get something like the Warner’s Digi-Book and the movie on an SDHC card.

    Something like that is very likely to happen, it’s just a question of when.

  9. Ryan on September 16th, 2008 5:17 pm

    The guy is right, because the world ends on December 21st 2012 – therefore BD will die that year too. Check the History Channel, Homie!

  10. Jennifer From Sony on September 25th, 2008 2:54 pm

    Check out the Sony Electronics Blog. A recent post talks about why Sony thinks Blu-ray is here to stay, despite contrary reports.

    ~Jennifer

    Jennifer Peterson
    Sony Electronics Blog Moderator
    Sony Electronics

    http://www.Sony.com/ElectronicsBlog

  11. justsayyes on October 8th, 2008 8:52 am

    I think one serious market impediment is the lack of dual-sided disks, BD on one side, standard DVD on the other. Why? The average consumer has a longer than three year buying cycle on their electronics. I’m talking about Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco/Sam’s Club types. They, like me, are not rushing out to replace our DVD playing hardware that we’ve collected over the last few years.

    It’s a royal pain to get a BR movie and not be able to watch it on the airplane, drive to mountains, or on the portable player. So rather than buy a BR disk, we pain averse types with kids will simply buy/rent standard DVDs.

    Another great example: rented ’21′ in BR for my daughter. Too busy with homework, she couldn’t watch it for a week. So, I watched it and then returned it, only to re-rent it in SD so she could watch it either on my PS3 or her computer. She considered the BR disk under these market challenging terms:

    Why do I HAVE to use the PS3?
    Why doesn’t it play in the DVD player Grandma gave me for my birthday?
    What do you mean I can’t take it to watch as Janie’s house?
    Can you rip it to my Touch? Oh…
    Are we watching the high definition version? You returned it? I thought this WAS the high definition version.

    Oh well, I still like BR for the same reason I have Magnepan planar speakers mated to a THX certified sub-woofer (12″ driver, class A amp), and still buy DVD-Audio disks. And when Oppo ships their universal BR/SACD/DVD-Audio player I’ll buy that and be happy in my esoteric little world of audio/video perfection.

    Signed – A Member of the Last Generation to Actually Care About Sound & Video Quality

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