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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