Game Over in Blu-Ray HD contest?

I’ve mentioned the Blu Ray/HD quandry in the past, but it seems the fight is drawing to its conclusion. In both the US and Europe, Blu-ray discs are significantly outselling HD DVDs.

But its this MacRumors chart (below) that pretty much sums up the battle:



Its hard to see how HD has a shot.

Now the question becomes how fast the prices drop on both the Blu Ray players and movies, but for now, I am sticking with an upconvert Sony for the big TV.


UPDATE: January 8, 2008 8:21pm

Why would prices go down?

As we previously discussed, I suspect many consumers have been on the sidelines awaiting the winner of the format war between Blu-Ray and HD.

As that fades away, the total number of purchases of the winner — Blu Ray — will go up significantly.

Thus, economies of scale, mass adaptation, and desires for deep market penetration will drive prices lower.

As to the monopoly issue — I doubt its an issue. 1) These are video playback toys, not an essential product or service; and B)  There is still legit competition from ordinary DVD players (fer cryin out loud, you can still buy VCRs for $29).   

My apologies for failing to explain the intermediate steps in my thinking  . . .

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  1. brandon commented on Jan 8

    This is why I picked up 50 shares of SNE at market open on Monday. Japanese and US markets are way off established levels and Sony’s game division has been the biggest drag on the stock. With BR now basically the de facto next-gen DVD format this should spur some serious PS3 sales, esp when the next price drop is announced (expected mid 08).

  2. Will Lewis commented on Jan 8

    The battle was over the day Sony decided to subsidize Blu-Ray technology by offering the PS3 at a lower price than even a standard Blu-Ray player, let alone an HD-DVD player.

  3. John Borchers commented on Jan 8

    I wouldn’t want serious PS3 sales as they lose money on each one.

  4. Kevin Crawford commented on Jan 8

    My understanding is SIGM Sigma Designs is one of the key players making the chips, so I am looking at this as the play. I will say I saw the Blue-Ray display at christmas and was blown away by the picture. I will definetly upgrade as soon as I can.

  5. brian sargent commented on Jan 8

    Looks like you might need to add another slice of blu to that pie chart – the Financial Times is reporting that Paramount is dumping HD DVD. I want the 200gs of storage that b-ray will eventually offer.

  6. Christopher Laudani commented on Jan 8

    Why do I need to watch “Gigli” in Blue Ray high def?? Most DVDs are not worth the $4 to rent, let alone spending $300 to update the player.

  7. Pool Shark commented on Jan 8


    Assuming arguendo that the format war is indeed over; why would you expect Blu-Ray prices to fall?

    Once the competition is eliminated, I would fully expect Sony to drop the subsidies and raise their (already inflated) prices.

    This is the main reason I haven’t yet upgraded to Hi-def; I refuse to pay twice as much for DVD’s (even if the picture quality is somewhat better).

  8. yoshi commented on Jan 8

    Sony has already raised the price of their cheapest player by 100 bucks. Expect more price increases has HD-DVD slowly gives way. And Sony did a bad job of subsidizing the players – you could consistently get HD-DVD players cheaper than Blue-Ray for the last 6 months of last year. But its the content thats important – regardless of the price players are worthless without it.

    Regardless – Blue-Ray was always the better technology but its all irrelevant anyway – physical media is dying.

  9. yoshi commented on Jan 8

    Btw – the chart is outdated – Paramount has announced support for Blue-Ray.

  10. Craig Kincaid commented on Jan 8

    I think the real issue is that who’s gonna buy this stuff in 2008, the consumer is dead in the water due to (pick a reason), heck they can’t even stay connected to AT&T, can’t pay their credit card bills, mortgages, etc. I’m all in favor of new technology but I find nothing wrong with the current DVD technology and will only buy a Blue Ray or HiDef DVD player when I absolutely have to . . . until then, it’s TIVO for me and Netflix.

  11. May commented on Jan 8

    Exactly. Prices will go up now. The two groups duking it out brought down prices faster than any other technology launch of its kind that I’ve ever witnessed. I was hoping this would stretch out a lot longer.

  12. maltby commented on Jan 8

    Don’t think this bodes well for classic movie fans, unless they remake them as cartoons.

    Wouldn’t buy any Sony gear-the good stuff is overpriced, the rest mediocre. I’d also be more inclined to short the stock rather than buy any. There’s no real money in HD, the PS3 was a miscalculation, Sony Pictures over reliance on sequels.

    I also don’t particularly like having the studios pick which technology I have to use.

  13. donna commented on Jan 8

    Considering my husband works for Sony Playstation, I’m a bit biased. ;^)

    But hey, where else can you get a great game machine AND high def in the same box? ;^)

  14. BKY commented on Jan 8

    As an HD-DVD owner, I am throwing in the towel. I will collect the movies that are out that are worth the money and wait until everything else is downloadable(several years away). As others have noted, I’m not certain that Sony and its cohort making the Blu-ray hardware will be very quick to lower prices. They have always priced at a premium from my viewpoint. A victory for Sony, but a pyrrhic one IMHO.

  15. campbeln commented on Jan 8

    Remember SACD? How about DVD-Audio? They were the next big, “HiDef” things to take over Audio CDs! Then what happened? Consumers got all of the non-rewind, random play-ability of CDs and added capacity with MP3s (and just to add insult to injury, LPs have been making a bit of a come back >=).

    Consumers don’t give a flying [squirrel] about “quality”. They want availability (how many albums fit on an 80gig iPod?), portability (here’s some songs to add to the playlist), etc. Now video can be a bit of a different beast, but I have personally been preferring to download the latest Lost/Heroes/whatever episode then wait for it on Aussie TV (as have the Brits) and I’ve been tempted to rip my store bought TV Season DVDs into AVIs and dump them on the file server because it’s much, MUCH easier to view them that way then flipping DVDs in and out.

    Sure, I may be the exception rather then the rule… but personally I see that video will go the way of audio (read: physical media is dead!).


  16. joe commented on Jan 8

    Sony does not have monopoly power to hurt the established DVD market. My PS3 playing 480P DVD’s on a 1080p set looks fantastic.

    Blu-Ray’s competition comes from existing DVD upscaling players, other sources of media like PPV and streaming media as well as Games and other activities.

    I buy DVDs bc they’re a better value.

  17. schnauser commented on Jan 9

    aw Barry, Barry, big mistake missing out on the Oppo. Its the real shizzy when it comes to upconverting DVD players. Oppo is the high end at a fantastic price. that Faroudja chip really smokes. check it out:

  18. cm commented on Jan 9

    The slice layout on the pie chart (3 sequences from bigger to smaller) suggests 3 segments, but 2 are colored blue, and the pink color is missing.

  19. tombot commented on Jan 9

    I just can’t shake the idea that both of these are going to be dead in the water before they reach the magic price/adoption tipping point. The big software and telco players are making huge strides to bring HD over IP to every broadband household (which encompasses most of the market for upscale home entertainment) – I’d gladly take a PPV/a-la-carte model at $5-10 a pop over the occasionally regrettable purchase (and storage) of any more $20-30 aluminum discs in my house.

    Anecdotally, people who get netflix tend to spend a lot less on retail DVDs than when they didn’t have netflix.

    Lastly, even for sheer storage, hard disk space is still going to be cheaper, and if IP bandwidth expands to match what comcast and hughes are projecting, the age of the laser might well be over and done with, no matter what color it is.

  20. JasRas commented on Jan 9

    Seagate’s CEO had comments on this epic battle that can be found on CNET’s coverage of the CES. To paraphrase, Whoever “wins” the HD/Bluray battle will end up losing the war b/c people are migrating away from disc delivery of movies/content and moving to the download/storage method. Hard drives are the ultimate winner.

    Have to agree with his summary. I’ve got an extensive dvd collection, but additions to it have slowed tremendously. I’ve dabbled in the HD venue. When it works, it is fabulous. I’ve had issue with about 1/2 of the HD discs not working, though. That is a separate issue, though that will be remedied with the repair/replace of my first gen HD player.

    I will be absolutely shocked that Sony finally got a format “right” for the first time since the CD! Only to get run over by hard drives…..

  21. me commented on Jan 9

    They waited way too long. How many Christmas seasons did they miss with this silly war? My unconverter player looks just great, certainly better than shelling out many hundreds for new player and then paying double for the disk.

    I don’t think Sony won anything.

  22. Tom B commented on Jan 9

    The war’s been over a long time. Even a year ago, Blu Ray had more players and titles, and way better technology. And Apple’s support. Why does that matter? Because if anyone understands content production, Apple does.

    This’ll be good for MPEG-4, in any event…

  23. Tom B commented on Jan 9

    “Seagate’s CEO …Hard drives are the ultimate winner.”

    yea–ultimately. Just skip Seagate HD’s, though. Bad news.

    Apple will win. AMZN Unbox and Netflix downloadable movies are already deeply, deeply flawed and Walmart actually exitted the biz last week.

  24. Mikey commented on Jan 9

    “Hard drives are the ultimate winner.”

    I’m not so sure. While download purchases of music have increased over the years, they are still a quite small percentage of overall music sales. The same issues that dog the music biz on this front also impact the movie biz only more so.

    It is easy to serve a HD movie from a central cite on demand to a user. Users will want to store themselves anything they want to buy, however. (Any examples to the contrary?) Getting that to users on any sort of scale worth noting will hold any large scale adoption for years to come.

    Rather, BD and HDDVD will both fail for the same reason that DVD-Audio and SACD failed: Users don’t care. When presented with an option of super high quality audio vs MP3’s, portability and ease of use won. Users didn’t have to invest in new hardware and discs (apart from their iPods) and got what they were looking for.

    The HD format wars are more of the same. My DVD’s played via a sub-$100 DVD player via HDMI scaled into a 52″ LCD monitor look very nice. Can I tell the difference? Yes, on some things but it still looks *very* good.

    Asking consumers to junk their hardware to enter a world of *booting* their players, updating firmware, etc, for differences that are often negligible is too much. DVD’s are gonna be around for a while to come whether anyone likes it or not.

  25. Thomas commented on Jan 14

    I agree, hard drives won’t win the war anytime soon. Being able to take the disc from player in the living room to the in-dash player in the car to a portable disc player/PC on an airplane (or wherever) has a lot to be said for it. Someday, you will be able to have a hard drive plug into those scenarios, but it is not here today for most people.

  26. Meine Ecke commented on Jan 28

    i like VHS – videos :)

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