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Blue Ray is Doomed bring back HD DVD

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Initial post: 7 Mar 2008 19:14:14 GMT
In the past, I've always felt that Blu-ray would win the high-def format war. After that, I wasn't necessarily sure what the future would hold for the format.

Would it be the success DVD was? Would it flop worse than LaserDisc? Would it cater to a slightly more advanced crowd but never reach the mainstream? Would it be a downright loser?

For a while, I decided to hold off from making any judgements until I could see how the Blu-ray group handled its victory. And while it has only been a relatively short amount of time since that win, the end is already in sight and the format has no hope of survival.

As James McQuivey, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research explained to me this week on my Digital Home podcast, Blu-ray isn't quite the shining light on the mountain that some believe it is. Instead, it's a vulnerable product that has considerable work to do before Sony can even think it will stack up to the DVD.

And while all of McQuivey's logic was well-founded and well-researched, I couldn't help but take it a step further and use it as the backbone for my prediction--Blu-ray will die as a forgotten warrior in the long and arduous battle of media formats.

Reason 1: No flexibility

First and foremost, Blu-ray is not flexible, nor is it portable. Doesn't sound like a big problem? Think again. According to McQuivey, the "DVD is extremely usable and you can take that disc and play it in your car, at a friend's house; you can take that DVD and after you're done with it, you can give it to a friend and they can play it at their house."

"Blu-ray players won't be like that for quite some time," he continued. "Because there just won't be nearly enough Blu-ray players in the home to justify even doing something like that."

Realizing that people want to take media and bring it wherever they go, how can we possibly justify saying that Blu-ray will win or even make a dent in the DVD market? McQuivey's point is not only a good one, but it reflects one key point that some have missed--media formats go far beyond the idea that we only care about viewing what's on them. Instead, we are looking for ease of use, availability, and portability--three facets that Blu-ray doesn't provide and probably won't for quite some time.

Reason 2: The issue of looks

HD has always been pretty and everyone knows that an additional 600 lines of resolution are important, but let's be honest--can anyone truly say that the difference in quality between DVDs and Blu-ray is so great that the thought of using that old format is unbearable? Of course not.

McQuivey explained to me that, "the average person can't tell the difference between DVD quality and HD a DVD looks pretty good for most people, especially when they use a DVD upconverter."

I've said it once and I'll say it again--the difference in quality between DVDs and Blu-ray is not nearly great enough to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a player. And as I'm not alone in that assertion, what will that do to the idea of portability that I mentioned above? If people are unwilling to buy Blu-ray players and portability is a key factor in DVD's success, how can anyone possibly say Blu-ray will be a similar success?

Reason 3: Cost, cost, cost

The price of Blu-ray players is simply too high for people to even want them. Why would someone who can't bring media wherever they would like and cannot tell the difference in quality actually waste time spending hundreds of dollars on a player?

At this point, pure logic should come into the discussion. To put it succinctly--Blu-ray will only do well if players are readily available, and players will be readily available if prices are lower. In order for prices to be lower, production costs will need to come down, and so far, production costs are still quite high. And all this is irrespective of the other issues already plaguing the device. Do you see what I'm getting at here? There's trouble in paradise.

Reason 4: The clock is ticking

Right now, Blu-ray is relatively safe because broadband speeds aren't nearly where they should be and HD media downloads are plagued by many of the same issues affecting Blu-ray. But that won't be true for too much longer.

As McQuivey pointed out, HD media downloads probably won't be too big for at least another five years, which means Blu-ray must make a huge splash in that time or face total annihilation. Of course, with crazy player prices and a slew of issues it needs to confront before then, what are the chances of anything like that happening?

The end is near for Blu-ray and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Say what you will, but Toshiba should be ecstatic that it didn't get caught in the middle of this quagmire and got out when it did.

But if you don't believe me, take McQuivey's take on it: "On many levels, Toshiba should be glad it lost (the high-def format war)."

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Mar 2008 00:36:29 GMT
Get Real says:
What a load of rubbish ! Bluray is already selling loads more. Read a paper.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Mar 2008 02:58:43 GMT
Grantos1 says:
And the 'downloads are the future' face saving argument has returned in another form.

No flexibility because I can't watch my movies at my mates house? This happened to me in 1998 when I got my first DVD player - only one person I knew had a player, you tend to find new technology takes a while to grow to a great level.

I agree, the jump from DVD to Blu Ray picture and sound quality isn't as large as VHS to DVD, but sales of Blu Ray and HD-DVDs were growing healthily last year, so people were and still are seeing the difference. But deeming that being able to watch a DVD on a laptop or portable player is a key factor of the formats success, I'm not seeing that as a major key at all.

The price is too high, waah waah. Name a media technology that wasn't very high when it was first release and took time to drop to a 10th of the original price. You can buy Samsung & Sony Blu-ray players for 200/$400 now, including the PS3. Think how much we paid for DVD players pre-2000. We always have people who simply must have the latest kit as soon as it is released and they are willing to part with a lot of money to be one of the first. I am sure Walmart will have $200 players for Christmas.

Crazy player prices, I heard that one for DVD and DVD recorders, nice try. Slew of issues, yeah profile 1.0 etc, we had similar problems with the first 'cheap' DVD players in the UK that were appearing for Christmas 2000 and couldn't play Gladiator and a couple of other Universal DVDs properly.

HD downloads will become big, but really, there's many people out there, including myself, who like to have something physical for some of their media and won't accept downloading their movies, that's a few more years off. Blu-ray may very well be the last physical format, but downloading HD content will need some time to take it's toll on DVD and Blu-ray

"The end is near for Blu-ray and there's nothing anyone can do about it." I think you are confused with HD-DVD, it's end was last month. Toshiba should have given up the ghost two years ago, but they forged ahead with a format that was pushed and funded by Microsoft for gains that were not necessarily for the better of HD-DVD. They threw in the towel last month, they have lost millions of dollars taking the format as far as they did - that's a quagmire, a multi-million dollar hole they dug themselves in for two years.

Will Blu-ray gain the success and longetivity of DVD? Probably not, HD downloads may keep it from growing in a few years time or a new 300GB disc with uncompressed picture may be the new kid in the block in 5 years time, who knows.

Are you sure Mr McQuivey did all this, ahem, research, or was he on getting copies of Shooter on HD-DVD for 8 Euros??

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Mar 2008 04:19:29 GMT
Mathayus says:

Thats the cheapest Blu-ray Player Amazon sells............let me repeat that for you 199.99
DVD was introduced in the mid 90's, it took 4 years before a No frills budget no name DVD player was even 199.99
yet you can get a SAMSUNG Blu-ray Player for 199.99 after a year of Blu-ray being on the market
This topic is stupid

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Mar 2008 06:03:15 GMT
Kersey says:
About your laserDisc comment:
This was a format that lasted nearly 20 years.
The format had (for the time) state of the art, picture and sound
Every major title was released on the format.
Every major studio was behind the format.
Please, please, please, let Blu-Ray be a loser like that.


In reply to an earlier post on 8 Mar 2008 08:09:09 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Mar 2008 09:21:13 GMT
blu-boi says:
mr c. a. haigh
You are talking absolute nonsence.
Tell me this. If blu-ray is doomed, what is going to replace it.
You sound to me like someone with a very big grudge.

......................................and don't say downloads, the world/industry needs a removable hi-def format & player.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Mar 2008 15:22:38 GMT
Mr. Jr Ward says:
I suspect we will never hear from the poster again as they are clearly massively wrong. I would suggest that Mr Haigh looks up McQuivey and Forrester on google and check what else they have to say. Look for the article "Forrester's James McQuivey Announces the Death of iTunes, Again". He even thinks that paying for downloads is going to die. He predicts that people would prefer to watch advert filled downloads rather than pay for pure ad-free content.

He incorrectly stated that itunes were losing money when they weren't and people would prefer to watch things for free but filled with ads. People have pointed out that dvd sales of old movies sell well even if they have been on tv for free.

Look him up, he's an idiot.

As for the arguments:

DVD took a while to get going. Blu Ray is already in more homes in a shorter amount of time. My first DVD player cost 400 and there were about ten titles for sale. In a few years it will be just as portable. It is ridiculous to say that lack of portability is a problem. It was ages before I could go to a mate's house and watch a dvd as IT WAS A NEW FORMAT! Now it isn't. The same will happen here. Obviously. Read a paper or online articles or simply use your memory or common sense. Its popularity is rapidly increasing, especially now, as the format war has ended and many are getting off the fence. There are going to be a lot of bitter HD DVD owners spouting for a while on forums but they are best pitied.

Your average person with a bad tv may not be able to tell the difference. My parents have a tiny tv and are still happy with their VHS. But most people with a half decent set are noticing the difference. Also the price of larger flat screen plasmas and LCDs are dropping rapidly and as they take up less room are becoming more popular. On a bigger screen, you can tell the difference. Easily. Is watching something on DVD unbearable? You're right, of course it isn't. Nor is watching a VHS unbearable. I'd rather watch something on Blu Ray on a high def 42" tv than a VHS on a 19" screen though.

The price will drop as it has with all other formats. Again, obviously. I can buy a DVD player from Woolworths for 25 now. It originally cost me 400. DVDs survived an expensive start.

McQuivey wants ad filled HD downloads for the future. Even though the majority of people would clearly prefer content to be ad-free. People like something solid. Downloads will simply be another option. My portable hard drive just broke and I lost 80 gigs of movies recently. It sucked but not too bad. They were only things I vaguely wanted to see as the movies I love are all on DVD and now, some are on Blu Ray. They were all legal by the way.

I'm sure Toshiba would have preferred to have sold a couple more movies and a couple more players. The development of the format cost them a bundle.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2008 00:53:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Mar 2008 00:57:39 GMT
soldout says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 10 Mar 2008 14:15:39 GMT
M. Scott says:
I'm at a total loss on this misinformed and narrow minded!!! Firstly I would like you to tell me how you think the advent of Blu-ray is any different from that of DVD....WHEN IT FIRST WAS RELEASED. You cannot make a comparison between what is available now to a format that has only just been released to that of a format which has had years of marketing, development and mainstream deployment. Of course DVD is more widespread, has more remotely accessible technology, has a better selection, etc...etc...

What you fail to realise is that the full capacity of the Blu-ray disc is not being used. For the HD market, yes some people will want the extra definition, some people will want a more robust media. But given time the prices of discs and players will come down, the blu-ray will become available for portable players but what will be the big selling point and what people will pay more money for isn't being created yet. Due to the immense amount of storage (40Gb compared to 4.7Gb for the DVD and around 25-30Gb for the HD-DVD), will mean more content can be squeezed into a single disc. While the extra quality in movie will take up much of this space, there will be plenty more for extra features on the discs be that special featurettes, extra languages, multiple versions of the same movie.

Also, the big advantage of Blu-ray is it is attached to a games console (by the way a console that doesn't require an extra add-on to play them on). This means that not only can people who buy a specific blu-ray system can play them but anyone who own a PS3 can too. This gives them a niche in the market already by default and so a damn sight better insight than DVD or as you have seen fit to include Laser-discs. If a certain area of the marekt already have something that plays them then it is a step in the right direction, and then as long as they are selling soem then they will be able to provide a better selection etc which will in turn provide cheaper discs and the more people willing to buy players...

I am almost convinced this original review is by a younger Xbox-360 user who is bitter that their own console's HD format has lost out and wishes to bad mouth the latest technology, without actually attempting to address facts rather spout gibberish with some resemblance of quotes for a magazine by another short sighted viewer.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Mar 2008 17:56:03 GMT
Oh boy!!!
How can anyone possibly gather so much misinformation and then add some pure fabrication in a single post?
I'd would guess Blu-ray will be as popular as DVD in another 2-3 years and probably end up replacing it in 5-7 years.
Look at the VHS market today.
Mr. McQuivey should find himself another job. Making this sort of predictions will surely get him nowhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Mar 2008 23:29:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Mar 2008 23:31:07 GMT
Great isn't it? How this person loves to lord it over people, who are tech enthusiasts, or simply cinema enthusiasts in general. What are your real reasons, a power kick over the internet, or you having a supply of HD DVD? What about people investing in the format? Go away and stop spreading FUD, it dosn't work with smart consumers.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2008 10:18:52 GMT
M. Edwards says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2008 14:10:50 GMT
E. Merrett says:
I do not think that HD format will have the same impact as DVD but it will be significant - the costs are too high and most people are unlikely to have the equipment that really shows off HD. Unless you have a projector with a 90 inch screen the benefits of HD are limited. As projector owner myself I find projectors can easily "dominate a room" and require loads of cabling. Most homeowner are not prepared to accept that.

That said I love HD and once you witnessed it on the projector you can never go back to DVD

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2008 14:38:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Mar 2008 14:42:22 GMT
Blu-Ray is here to stay for the time being and it`s quite staggering how good a brand new film can look.I must admit though that I`m slightly dubious how the format can significantly improve the quality of a much older film over a regular dvd, but we shall see.Any slight improvement though(not as great as VHS to dvd as pointed out)will still compel the home cinema buff or film fan to update his or her system.I haven`t bought into Blu-Ray yet but will probably pick up a P3 shortly.

Portability isn`t really an issue-I don`t want to watch a film in my car,on my mobile,on the toilet!-I want to watch it in the comfort of my front room.

Cost isn`t an issue either as you can get a Blu-Ray player in the UK for 200-300 and prices are coming down.

Downloads will undoubtedly make up the core market of much of the entertainment industry in future years, but being a film and music collector ,I still like something tangible.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2008 20:16:25 GMT
S. Harris says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2008 21:43:17 GMT
Albert R says:
S. Harris, what do you mean by "both of the blu-ray"?

Blu-ray players already play normal DVDs.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2008 22:36:31 GMT
S. Harris says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2008 23:52:50 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 12 Mar 2008 00:04:28 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2008 00:37:43 GMT
But Sony own the film studio's .. sadly the technology will have nothing to do with it. Ask Mrs Smith what film she would like to watch in years to come. She won't care about the format. Remember MP3 sound quality is quite inferior to CD and of course vinyl. What do people buy now ? and what about the cheapness of the versatile Playstation ? People just aren't as logical as you think .. remember what's easier and certainly more clearer - texting or just dialing the number ?


Think again .. and we'll have this discussion in years to come.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2008 12:16:10 GMT
Paul Jones says:
In response to Mr. A. D. Amuro's concerns regarding the older films conversion to HD, I can tell you that some movies look superb. I recently read somewhere that a DVD is approx' 1/16th the picture quality of the original transfer and nowhere does it look better than on The searchers. The quality was so good, it prompted me to buy Rio Bravo, but was very disappointed as it looks no different to the DVD version. Another movie I bought was The Dirty Dozen, which has segments that are very clear, but others that look kind of blurry. One other older movie, which really benefits from HD that I need to mention is Viva Las Vegas. If your not an Elvis fan then so be it, but the quality is razor sharp throughout the whole film.
Regarding Mr. Nigel R. Starkey's point about Sony owning the film studios. I am confused where you are going with that comment. True, Sony own Columbia and MGM as part of a group, but that's where it ends. Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros, Disney & 20th Century Fox are all separate. Also, you make a point about MP3 and it's dominance in the music market. I recently read an article stating that vinyl sales have improved significantly, which leads me to believe that there still is a demand for good old fashioned hard copies. MP3's et al are very convenient, but I think there will always be a demand for high quality over high quantity.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2008 14:26:32 GMT
Albert R says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2008 15:32:17 GMT
G. Lewis says:
Two optical disc formats, one holds 30gb, one holds 50gb - which one are you going to pick!?

Yes we know, blu ray is where DVD was a decade ago, yet it still caught on. DVD was expensive back then too. When DVD writers started appearing the blank DVD's cost over a tenner each. A blank 25gb blu-ray disc is about 7 if you shop around.

The clock isn't ticking - can you imagine the strain on the internet when billions of people start downloading 50gigabytes worth of data at a time - it can barely cope with Youtube. Xbox live has a movie download service but their "HD" movies are 5gb - just think how much quality you are not getting - and you don't get to keep what you pay for either.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2008 10:46:13 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2008 12:17:46 GMT
Albert R says:
The only thing more stupid than the first post in this thread is the actual thread title.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2008 15:57:44 GMT
N. Peterson says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2008 18:49:52 GMT
Peter Reime says:
Ouch - did someone step on some Blu toes here? Where in the article was there mis-information? The conclusions may be off the mark, but like all speculation they are all little more than wild guesses.
Reason 1: I love the way people always use the comparison to early DVDs and players to justify steep prices. However technological progression is increasing at a greater speed than in the late 90's, so 3 years in the life of DVD doesn't compare to 3 years in the life of Bluray. The problem with Bluray (and HD DVD) is that they are considerably more complex than DVDs. They are essentially fully functioning PCs and this will always limit their minimum price. I doubt we will ever see a sub 100 Bluray player that has profile 2.0 support. Plus the BDA have stated that they won't allow cheap manufacturers to enter into a player price gazumping war. Add to that the increased cost in dealing with the complexities of the advanced copy protection and interface programming o f the discs which lead to compatibility issues & recalls. I think the 200 figure is a barrier that will be here to stay for at least 1-2 years, which means only a small percentage of the total video market. Bluray has a lot more in common with Laserdisc than with DVD.
Reason 2: of course most HD releases look better than SD releases on the right equipment. However comparing the switch from DVD to Bluray with the switch from VHS to DVD is flawed. Bluray over DVD has higher video resolution and audio quality, and one day, if they get the profiles sorted, it will have a few additional features. And for the Studios it offers considerably improved copy protection, and for the first time the ability to control and restrict usage too. That is all. DVD over VHS has improved video and sound, smaller size, much less prone to wear and prolonged use, is cheaper to manufacture, offers instant chapter selection and start, offers added features, languages and subtitles, and for the studios it offered improved copy protection. That is why the consumer chose DVD. The same revolution isn't going to happen with Bluray. If quality was all that mattered, why didn't Laserdisc take over the world?
Reason 1: flexibility is not a downfall for Bluray, it is a downfall for all physical formats. Portability is a major benefit of the all digital formats, and portable devices using physical media is going the way of the dodo - except for Sony's UMD format. Bless their little cotton socks for son tenaciously keeping a dead format alive! To give credit to Bluray, they are addressing this with the inclusion of compressed portable copies of the films on some of the latest discs.
Reason 4: the clock certainly is ticking, however well Bluray will do in the near future (1-5 years) beyond that Bluray, or it's physical successor will have to share the market with digital downloads. Downloads will cater for the mass consumption market whereas Bluray etc will cater for the smaller collectable and audio / videophile market. And before some of you start spouting nonsense about the net being unable to handle 50gb downloads etc. With ever improving compression you are unlikely to ever see more than 8gb for a movie in HD quality. The minority of purists demanding "perfect" will be catered for by films on physical media, everyone else happy with "good" will stick with downloads. How else do you explain the rise of the merely "good" MP3 format vs the great CD and the "perfect" SACD / DVD-A.
To throw a further spanner in Bluray's works you also have the new DVD 2.0 profile, which could be seen as the bastard child of HD DVD, offering the same level of interactivity, but backwards compatible with existing DVD players. It will be interesting to see where that will go.
So how about everybody here un-bunch their knickers and stop crying heresy. Be happy that you have a nice player that satisfies your high demands in sound and picture quality, and accept the fact that the majority simply aren't, and won't be convinced that an upgrade is worth the expense.
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Initial post:  7 Mar 2008
Latest post:  12 Feb 2014

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