CNet Reviews: 9 reasons why Blu-ray will succeed - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:16 AM
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Default CNet Reviews: 9 reasons why Blu-ray will succeed

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-18438_7-10142913-82.html

9 reasons why Blu-ray will succeed

I've been seeing a lot of articles lately about Blu-ray's fuzzy future, how it's doomed, and how its success will be short-lived even if it does take off. Well, that may well end up being the case, but I gotta say, from where I'm sitting, there's a far greater probability that Blu-ray will do just fine--for a long time. And I'm not saying that because I'm a fanboy or a shill for Sony. I'm saying it because a lot of simple market factors point toward it doing just fine. Here are nine reasons why I'm right.

1. Digital downloads will not eliminate the need for discs anytime soon.

Let's address this first since this is the biggest factor that people cite when trumpeting Blu-ray's defeat. If you haven't noticed, here at CNET we spend a good amount of time covering new streaming video platforms and services and really enjoy testing these new products. Everything from Hulu to Netflix streaming video to Slingbox to Apple TV to Vudu all show promise. That said, all these products have some limiting factors, including lack of content selection, pricing hurdles, and most particularly, bandwidth issues, which affect video and audio quality.

Case in point: The other night I was running Netflix's video streaming service on my Xbox 360. I fired up the movie, The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen on a large rear-projection TV. It looked like crap. How crappy? Well, bad enough for my wife to say, "Get that off the screen right now." (The hazard of watching virtually everything in HD is that everyone in your household over the age of 7 becomes a video snob).

Next, I tried The Wiggles to better results. The program had brighter scenes and less movement, so the picture wasn't quite as soft and pixelated. My 5-year-old could handle it just fine. However, I had to leave the room after 5 minutes in extreme pain. (It was due to the content, not video quality. Man, that's some bad music).

Now, I'm sure folks who've got Verizon's Fios installed in their homes are getting a much better picture when they stream their Netflix video. But I'm dealing with cable internet from Time Warner in Manhattan and while it's acceptable for streaming video onto a 22-inch computer monitor, the pipe really isn't fat enough for blowing things up too far beyond a 32-inch set without things getting pretty fuzzy. (Our video guru, David Katzmaier says he's happy with the bandwidth he's getting from Time Warner in Brooklyn, but he says he, too, runs into some pretty rough pictures, especially those that involve a lot of action sequences).

I can't see Time Warner and other cable Internet providers suddenly delivering more bandwidth anytime soon (if anything, my connection seems to have gotten worse in recent months). DSL is even worse in a lot of cases--unless you're willing to pay ridiculous rates for top-of-the-line bandwidth offerings, which are usually geared toward businesses not consumers. And there's also plenty of talk about ISPs throttling back on bandwidth to police illegal downloads of music and yes, movie and TV shows.

The incoming Obama administration is reportedly going to be offering incentives to providers for building out broadband offerings and increasing bandwidth (eventually, anyway). Whether that has any impact or not, I still think we're a good 3-5 years away before the pipes really get fat enough for many of these IPTV/ streaming video services to reach their full potential and move from niche to mainstream status. In that time prices for both Blu-ray players and discs will look a lot like what you see today on their DVD brethren (see reasons #4 and #5).

2. Having one clear standard is a big advantage.

One of the problems with digital video streaming and downloads is that there's no standard for the industry to coalesce around. It's all a hodgepodge of stuff with various factions competing against each other with the consumers stuck in the middle of it all. That will slow adoption.

3. Blu-ray isn't going to be replaced by another disc format anytime soon.

When both Blu-ray and HD-DVD were in the midst of their little battle for the right to be crowned winner of the next-generation DVD format wars, there was lots of chatter about skipping this generation of disc technology and moving on to something that offered capacity beyond the 50GB you could store on Blu-ray discs. My favorite was "holographic storage," discs, which could carry like 10 times the amount of data.

The problem is, no one's got the money or marketing power of Sony and its allies to bring out a new disc format, even if it is technically better. Also, Blu-ray is plenty good enough and will be for the next five years, if not longer, especially when they start adding special layers and all that fun stuff companies do to eke more out of a technology.

Yeah, Blu-ray's got plenty of downside competition from DVD, but there's no upside pressure coming anytime soon from some higher-end format. This is it for a while, folks. Blu-ray is the de-facto standard for high-definition discs.

4. Prices for large-screen HDTVs will continue to drop.

Yes, we're dealing with a serious recession here. But people are still buying HDTVs (maybe not as many, but there are certain necessities in life, and a good TV is one of them; it's the American way). And with prices becoming more affordable for sets 50 inches or bigger, you've got a growing base of installed users who are ultimately going to want to get the best picture they can out of their TVs. Eventually, DVD isn't going to cut it for people with large-screen TVs. And at the end of the day, Blu-ray looks significantly better than DVD--or pretty much anything else, including most HDTV broadcasts--on TVs 50 inches or bigger.

5. Prices for Blu-ray players will continue to drop.

By this time next year, there will be several sub-$100 Blu-ray players on the market. Once you get to those price points it becomes much more of a no-brainer for consumers to purchase a Blu-ray player. Yes, you 'll be able to buy a decent DVD player for $60. But if you tell someone you can have a player that plays back "HD" discs and DVDs, he or she will think hard about shelling out the extra cash. And it will also help if...

6. Prices for Blu-ray discs will drop to near DVD price levels.

In a small number of cases, we're already finding examples of Blu-ray versions of movies that cost virtually the same as their DVD counterparts. In the coming months, you'll see the prices for Blu-ray discs gradually drop with the gap between Blu-ray and DVD prices narrowing. They have to. This is how businesses work. You get the cost of production down to the point where you can spur demand and still manage to turn a tidy profit.

While people aren't going to buy as many Blu-ray discs as they did DVDs (plenty will rent from Netflix and other outlets), they're still going to buy some. Given the choice of renting an HD movie on demand for $6 and buying the disc for $15-$20, you're going to get your share of folks buying a tangible, physical product. And let's not forget that the price for watching movies in theaters is getting ridiculous ($12.50 per person here in Manhattan). Buying a pristine copy of the movie for $15-$20 is going to seem like a bargain, especially for a family of four--or more.

7. Sony will sell lots of PlayStation 3 game consoles.

As Sony trims the price on its PS3, it will sell more of them. Many more. And every PS3 has a Blu-ray player in it (and we still think it's the best player out there). This has always been Sony's Trojan horse for the platform. Don't forget it.

8. Sony can't afford to have Blu-ray fail.

Sony won the war with HD DVD, and now it's got to take that win to the bank. Sony and its partners will do everything in their power to make it succeed. That's a lot of marketing juice.

9. Sony and its partners will figure out a way to have Blu-ray resonate with the public.

In several market research studies, Blu-ray has run into a basic problem: a high percentage of consumers don't understand just what Blu-ray is and what it does for them.

I always liked the name HD DVD better than Blu-ray because I thought the name translated better to the average consumer. Some argue that Blu-ray is a better name because it connotes something new and different (and presumably better). Well, when you have people misspelling your brand's name (Blue Ray), you have a problem.

I would encourage Sony to embark on a whimsical, self-deprecating ad campaign that educates consumers about its platform and teaches them how to spell its product correctly. As we used to say here at CNET--whenever we saw our site incorrectly referred to as c-net, C|Net, or CNet--spelling is telling. When everybody knows how to spell Blu-ray correctly, the format will be a success. I'll bet my old HD DVD collection on it.

As always, feel free to agree or disagree with me and list your reasons you think Blu-ray will make it, fade away, or muddle about in a place between success and failure, forever eliciting praise and criticism.

Note: For more reasons why Blu-ray isn't doomed, read Matthew Moskovciak's excellent post recounting what early critics had to say about DVD and how it relates to Blu-ray today.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10013891-1.html

DVD will fail? Sounds a lot like Blu-ray

It's hard to imagine now, but when DVD first launched, its success was far from guaranteed. Back in 1996, there were even anti-DVD fanboys, and recently we ran into a rant--sarcastically retitled as "Why DVD would fail"--that struck us as eerily familiar to the current arguments against Blu-ray. Considering that DVD was such a huge success, it's worth looking at exactly how similar the two formats are at this early stage, and what that means for the future of Blu-ray.

1. Consumers aren't willing to rebuy movies

They will be the same tired movies that everyone already owns and will be loathe to buy again. [...] Because the titles available will be ones that people already own, they will naturally sell less than a new release that is still hot from the theaters. This will result in even a bigger cost for companies because the less they sell, the more each feature costs to implement on each title.

Right. Just like nobody repurchased their albums on CD or VHS tapes on DVD. This one seems to get dragged out for every new format and is quickly ignored once it takes off. We're not saying that people will rush to replace their DVDs with Blu-ray discs, but it seems obvious consumers eventually give in and repurchase media if the new format is worthwhile. The only difference we'd note is that well-kept DVDs don't deteriorate after use like VHS tapes did, so perhaps consumers will be somewhat less likely to replace their DVDs that still look as good as the day they bought them.

Verdict: Same argument now used against Blu-ray.



2. Not enough movies

All the companies involved with DVD are promising a catalog of 250 titles at the launch with maybe 50 to 100 actually available in the stores in the beginning. [...] And even if they do manage to finish 250 movies in time for the launch, what will those movies be? Top Gun? Rocky?

When any type of new format launches, early adopters are stuck with a pretty limited initial selection. It happened with DVD, and it happened with Blu-ray, which still only has about 650 titles available two years after its release. And we're seeing it all over again with criticism of the selection on online movie services, such as iTunes, Vudu, and the Netflix Player. This argument seems pretty shortsighted overall--if a new format offers a new compelling experience, the content will follow.

Verdict: Same argument now used against Blu-ray.



3. Can't record

Consumers will look at DVD and see that it doesn't record. That will instantly arouse suspicions in their mind that if the movies they want to watch are not available on the DVD discs, then the machine will be useless to them and a waste of money.

DVD recorders are old technology now, but when DVD first came out one of the knocks against it was that it didn't record like VHS--which was a killer feature before DVRs became ubiquitous. Blu-ray recorders are available now in Japan, but we haven't seen any signs of them coming to the U.S. in the near future. But the real issue is that Blu-ray recording just doesn't matter as much with high-def DVRs and so many TV series being released on high-quality DVD and Blu-ray sets.

Verdict: Same argument now used against Blu-ray, but less people care.



4. Nobody cares about special features

Another question is, how many consumers actually want and use all the special features that DVD might offer? CD players offer all kinds of special programming and playback options, yet most people never touch these features. A cheap VCR is seen as too intimidating to most Americans. They just want to watch the movie, not select different versions, languages, and such. The LD market has proven that these extra features are desired, but only by a small segment of the population.

This point has been made about Blu-ray right here on CNET, in Executive Editor David Carnoy's Fully Equipped column. While I tend to agree that special features aren't a big draw for DVD or Blu-ray, it tends to be the icing on the cake, rather than the main draw of the format. DVD didn't succeed because of special features--and neither will Blu-ray--but they're a nice extra.

Verdict: Same argument now used against Blu-ray.



5. Picture quality isn't that much better

And now we get into the most controversial aspect of the entire DVD debate. Picture quality, or the lack there of. When DVD was first announced, it was claimed to offer D1 Master Tape quality. A short while later, the companies said it was much better than VHS but worse than LD. Now they have swung the other way again and are claiming D1 quality again. Quite simply, this will be impossible on commercially prepared, feature-length films.

It seems insane to argue that DVD isn't a huge leap over VHS in terms of image quality, but it's less crazy than you think. It takes content makers a while to fully understand how to use new technology, which is why many first-run CDs and DVDs are surprisingly mediocre. The same thing happened with Blu-ray--anyone who saw the first version of The Fifth Element on Blu-ray can attest to that. But now that we've seen a steady flow of exceptional looking Blu-ray discs, it's going to be harder to find people who aren't impressed by the image quality of Blu-ray on a big-screen HDTV.

Verdict: Same argument now used against Blu-ray.



6. The industry is just greedy

DVD is just a bad idea. It is being forced upon a uncaring and unwanted public and is an inferior product that simply isn't needed or desired. DVD exists only for one reason. Greed. Motion picture studios are always looking for a way to sell the same stuff over and over again and they think DVD is the answer.

More cynical observers might characterize Blu-ray as just the industry's latest attempt to make money on the same movies yet again. But the industry didn't introduce DVD out of the kindness of its heart--it did it to make money--and few people look back on successful formats like DVD and CD as a devious scheme by motion picture studios.

Verdict: Same argument now used against Blu-ray.



So, since the same arguments that didn't matter with DVD are now being used against Blu-ray, does that mean Blu-ray is destined to be as successful as DVD? Not quite. The simple fact is that Blu-ray's main draw is that it offers significantly better image quality than DVD, and whether consumers think that's a worthwhile upgrade will make or break the format. All the other arguments essentially don't matter, just like they didn't with DVD.

What do you think? Are Blu-ray critics lobbing the same weak arguments as DVD critics did back in 1996? Or are the same arguments against Blu-ray more convincing in the current marketplace. Sound off in the comments.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:20 AM
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I predict 12+ pages before the day is over, with 10 of them by one poster.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:23 AM
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ONOES -> the DAGS (doom and gloom squad) will come down enforce, all 5 or 6 of them, to spread FUD and discredit...
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:27 AM
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I don't know if I thought all 9 points were rock solid, but over all this is well written and I generally agree.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazzeto View Post
I don't know if I thought all 9 points were rock solid, but over all this is well written and I generally agree.
Agreed. Points 8+9 were a little much for me, but I thought most of it was spot on.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:31 AM
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They missed the most important part out of number 1

Digital Downloads will not eliminate the need for disc anytime soon

I'm just not ready to have a movie I want to own sitting on a hard drive from a DD source. Yes the picture quality is just not there yet, but more importantly I just want to own a physical copy. I want to be able to take that movie to another TV and play it there. I want to be able to lend it to a friend. I want to be able to sell the movie if I grow tired of it. I dont want a Hard Drive crash to take my movie collection with it.

DD will continue to grow but those little shinny discs we all love so much will be here for a long time to come.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sbert View Post
ONOES -> the DAGS (doom and gloom squad) will come down enforce, all 5 or 6 of them, to spread FUD and discredit...
Well one of them is over at another forum right now chastising a poster in the memory card viability thread, telling him he has to heed the warning to stay on topic or face some uncertain consequence. I know, irony at it's absolute finest coming from that one, but I'm only reporting the facts. As for the others I haven't seen much of them so far this morning. Probably busy scouring the internet looking for more doom and gloom articles, although as of late, those articles aren't too common anymore.

Now to the article. I definitely agree that having one clear standard is a big advantage. Hopefully this year Blu ray sales and market penetration numbers will put all the doubters to rest.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveS1138 View Post
They missed the most important part out of number 1

Digital Downloads will not eliminate the need for disc anytime soon

I'm just not ready to have a movie I want to own sitting on a hard drive from a DD source. Yes the picture quality is just not there yet, but more importantly I just want to own a physical copy. I want to be able to take that movie to another TV and play it there. I want to be able to lend it to a friend. I want to be able to sell the movie if I grow tired of it. I dont want a Hard Drive crash to take my movie collection with it.

DD will continue to grow but those little shinny discs we all love so much will be here for a long time to come.
I guess I kind of got over this with MP3 already a while ago, it supprises me that some people still feel that way actually lol... but I suppose I see where you're coming from, I remember when I felt the same way regarding music... These days if it's not on my zune it's just about not worth listening to.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:48 AM
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Its nice to see an optimistic article as opposed to the the usual doom and gloom crap from "expert analysts" like Rob Enderle.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazzeto View Post
I guess I kind of got over this with MP3 already a while ago, it supprises me that some people still feel that way actually lol... but I suppose I see where you're coming from, I remember when I felt the same way regarding music... These days if it's not on my zune it's just about not worth listening to.
I feel the same way about music.......well, kind of. I would still buy a CD if I wanted it (I actually havent bought a CD or any music in years). so that I had the ownership ect that I mention above.

But Yes when it comes to listening to music everything I own has been converted to MP3 and I play everything off an iPod (well, I will when I get around to replacing the one I had stolen )

But I see music and movies as a very different beast.

I will put up with MP3's with music since most of the time I am listening to music it is in my car where the qulaity is not my main concern and the portability gives enough advantages to amke it worth while.

I just dont have that with movies.

Most of the time I will be watching a movie down in my man cave so portability is not an issue. I want the best possible PQ/AQ and DD is just too big a compromise when it comes to a movie I want to own (although I am using it more for rental now).

However, on top of that I just dont like the fragility of a DD (I have had plenty of HD crashes in my lifetime) or thier unporability (Stuck on the box I download it too), or the lack of actual ownership (How do I sell the movie I bought and if I cant then what did I actually ever own).

Same with videogames......I have a couple of titles I have downloaded for my PS3 instead of buying the disc (although with an absolute favourite like GT5:P I still went for the disc)......but again I dont mind having a game I bought stuck on one box since its the only place I will ever use it......and I am unlikely to try to resell a game so ownership is not as big an issue.

I just dont see it working for movie ownership for me for a long time to come.
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