Blu-ray prices dropping ahead of Black Friday

October 28, 2008

Blu-ray may have won the battle against HD DVD, but it is nowhere near winning the war to become the consumer standard. Still facing a threat from SD DVD, and with digital downloads, streaming, and video-on-demand fast becoming a serious threat, it’s now or never for the format. Which means one thing: price cuts.

Blu-ray is currently the high definition format of choice, having seen off Toshiba’s HD DVD format at the start of 2008. But the technology hasn’t exactly been embraced by consumers as of yet. In the U.S., less than 2% of households own a Blu-ray player, and most of those are due to the PS3 having been shipped with one included as standard.

Sales of normal DVDs are actually dropping, but there seems little evidence to suggest that Blu-ray is making up the shortfall. In fact, the figures are more likely to suggest that mainstream consumers are not only reining in their spending, but also becoming more open to non-physical formats by way of video-on-demand and digital downloads.

All of this adds up to mean that the coming holiday season is of the utmost importance to manufacturers and retailers involved in pushing the Blu-ray format as the future. According to The Wall Street Journal, the price of Blu-ray players has already dropped from around $400 in the summer to below $230 at retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart.

But that’s unlikely to be the end of it. Experts are predicting promotional prices to drop below $150 on Black Friday, and if that price point were to drive huge sales, then retailers would likely be tempted to keep the prices low right up until Christmas in the hopes of tempting consumers in.

While lowering of Blu-ray hardware prices is likely to help the format establish itself fully, there won’t be widespread adoption until the price of Blu-ray movies actually comes down. At the moment, they often cost double the amount as the same film on DVD, and offer the same, or less, special features.

Anyone keen to buy in to Blu-ray is likely to do well this Christmas, but there are reasons to be wary of some bargain basement prices. It could be that you’re buying an older model which cannot be connected to the Internet, thus affecting your ability to obtain the full range of interactive features on offer.

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6 Responses to “Blu-ray prices dropping ahead of Black Friday”

  1. DavidB:

    Ah Dave, you show again how little you know of economics.

    If BDA doesn’t cut their licensing fees to get unit prices down, they won’t be competetive in this market. Cheap hardware will happen regardless, its the software cost that is the barrier. People don’t so much care about the player prices, thos are one shot deals. The average Joe looks at the movies and says “I can’t afford those when the DVD is half the price”.

  2. DaveP:

    DavidB – You may want to read the whole article before commenting in future. Paragraph 6 covers the cost of Blu-ray movies.

  3. Atlantagreg:

    Well, they’re still missing the mark. I’m not going to buy a Blue Ray PLAYER – I want a machine that can play and RECORD, too!

    Why would I toss out my current DVD recorder and replace it with a device that can play only? I don’t have a DVR like some, so that would leave me unable to record my favorite shows. Until the makers of these things put recording ability on them, I won’t buy one even at $50.00.

  4. Ken:

    SD DVD was a huge upgrade over VHS as an entertainment delivery. Luckily, Circuit City’s rot in hell Dvix scam died it’s pan and scan with no extras death before it fouled and divided the channel permanently.

    The quality of the DVD image compared to the VCR was readily apparent, and the special features like outtakes and chapter navigation added a gee whiz coolness. Even the size of the disk made video tape look dowdy.

    Blu-ray has none of that value for most people. It’s like vinyl records going from 78 to 33 and 45 rpm.

    No denying with the proper monitor and cables the image is amazing. But the jump isn’t enough to persuade most folks to spend the money to upgrade.

    Gotta wonder when it will sink in that all this format and standards war crap does more damage each time it happens and serves no real purpose. It’s not like the better technology always wins.

  5. Greg:

    Even though people spend more on discs than a player, the player price is still the barrier since it is an all-at-once expense. Since Netflix carries BD for $1/mo. more, you can basically buy a BD player and enjoy HD movies without much additional costs.

    I haven’t bought a BD player yet because: 1) it’s still evolving (Ironman incompatibilities, anyone?); 2) the quality/performance isn’t available at my price point–I’m not going to sit around for 3 min waiting for Java-based discs like Pirates of the Caribbean to load; 3) getting the ‘full’ experience would require upgrading my receiver, too, adding even more cost; 4) I don’t hook up things to the internet, so much of the industry’s push for BD Live (not to mention firmware updates & streaming) is wasted on me.

    Sell a quality, fast, robust machine that does what it should without the bells & whistles for $200, and I’ll buy it today.

  6. Scott:

    Like all new stuff…I’ll wait a year or 2 and pay 60-90% less than those that must have it NOW!

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