By Doug Thompson
Remember the big, huge fight over the Blu-ray versus the HD-DVD format for home theater?
What a waste of time.
I found this in a June article at industry.bnet.com/technology:
“According to a Harris Interactive Poll, 7 percent of U.S. households have a Blu-ray player while 11 percent have an HD-DVD machine. That’s right, the discontinued technology still has greater market share.”
There’s a little more to the story than that. The poll itself says there are 7 percent of U.S. households with a “dedicated” Blu-ray player. Another 9 percent of households have a Sony PlayStation 3 — which can play Blu-ray movies. Some others own an Xbox 360 with a discontinued, optional HD-DVD player on it.
So how many PS3 owners ever play a Blu-ray on their machine? Anybody’s guess; Whatever numbers you use, Blu-ray’s home theater market share is south of 16 percent. It’s likely far south.
I don’t blame anybody who has the high-def TV and fine stereo system to tap into Blu-ray from taking advantage of the format. They’re just going to be among an elite for a while yet.
Harris claims only 7 percent of non-Blu-ray player owners reported a likely purchase of a Blu-ray disc player within the next year. That’s down from 9 percent in May 2008.
This was an online poll. Harris is a widely known market research company, but none of the accounts I read gave a number of respondents or a margin of error.
Longtime readers of this space know that I’ve deplored the use of the PS3 as a Trojan Horse in the format war. It left gamers stuck with a high-price console with a new technology. Few of them had the high-powered, big screen high-def TVs that the player needs.
The PS3’s price, however, was recently cut. Analysts have said for years that this is what the PS3 needs. I’ve argued that what Sony needs and what it can afford are two different things. The company lost money on every console sold. Production costs have finally dropped over the course of years.
The cost cut and new slimmer model resulted in a very healthy sales spike for the PS3. Sales are dropping off, but I think some kind of milestone might be passed. I’m not a Sony fan yet, but there are finally a couple of good reasons to buy this thing.
Christmas is coming up. There’s one.
Second, Blu-ray won. Whether you hate Sony for bait-and-switch marketing or not, the war’s over. It’s Sony’s bad luck that a serious recession hit right after they won, killing the home electronics market. If you still have a job and can pick up a high-def television on the cheap at a pawn shop, you’re good to go.
The PS3 is a tried and tested Blu-ray player with Internet connectivity and a hard drive. I was reading a news article about the sales spike. On comment said the PS3 was great — for storing Blu-ray quality video on the hard drive and making impressive business presentations to clients. It runs smoothy and well.
I don’t expect to find PS3s at the office supply store any time soon, but every little bit helps.
Now suppose you’re buying a new computer. You want a Blu-ray player in it. Well, then you may want to hide this from your parents/significant other or whatever.
Blu-ray discs “won’t be replacing DVDs as the primary optical drive in PC systems through at least the year 2013,” said Michael Yang, senior analyst for storage and mobile memory at iSuppli, a technology consulting firm. Most home and business PCs don’t need that kind of temporary storage yet, he says.
Yang goes on: “It’s undeniable that Blu-ray delivers a higher-definition picture, better sound quality and larger storage space for home entertainment.” (This would include games.) “However, these benefits may have little or no value when viewing the content on a smaller desktop or laptop PC screen and using poor speakers.”