Blu-Ray, I hardly know ye

Poor consumer education could be Blu-ray's downfall in the market

There was a time when it looked like HD-DVD would be winner in the battle to bring high-definition to computers and video players. Then the momentum suddenly swung to a competing standard called Blu-ray. Now, it looks like Blu-Ray is in trouble, but not from HD-DVD.

Let me make a confession: I've written about this stuff for 25 years and cannot, off the top of my head, recite the differences between the formats. Nor can most people, for whom the whole Blu-ray "thing" seems to be a snore.

In fact, a Harris Interactive Poll (PDF) found that 93 percent of those surveyed have no interest in purchasing a Blu-Ray DVD player, despite HDTV ownership rising to 47 percent, up from 35 percent a year ago.

What's the matter?

Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD has confused potential customers, which is a sure way to freeze the market. But, there is also a concurrent move away from DVD as a content delivery mechanism.

"Blu-ray also faces competition from alternative technologies such as cable, satellite, and the Internet," said Milton Ellis, Vice President and Senior Consultant, Harris Interactive Technology, Media, and Telecom Practice. "Consumers today can easily watch high definition TV channels or use the Internet or video-on-demand to access high definition movies.

"In the near future, access to high definition movies may be a download or streaming delivery of one's favorite movies to a home media server that eliminates the need for a Blu-ray player and Blu-ray disc. One thing is for sure, the market will be highly competitive, and consumers will have a wide variety of choices for their entertainment experience."

My guess is that over time most of us will end up with Blu-ray, because it comes as part of whatever we purchase next, be it a computer or video player.

David Coursey happily admits to not owning a HDTV. He tweets as techinciter and can be reached via e-mail using the form at www.coursey.com/contact.

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David Coursey

PC World (US online)

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