Even though Blu-ray has officially defeated it’s closest rival (HD-DVD) it still seems an incredibly niche product. I know of only one person who owns a player, and that’s a PS3.
The trouble with any form of high definition medium at present is that to the majority, the quality increase just isn’t worth the expenditure on new hardware. More succinctly: DVD films still look pretty good. With the cheapest Blu-ray players costing £199 at present, take up of the format just isn’t going to happen. And the same thing happened with DVD. At least in the UK…
If my memory serves, the DVD player was a largely geek/niche product, gathering slow momentum over the preceding months until Tesco launched the Wharfedale DVD player into it’s stores. It was almost at the magic £100 price point and all of a sudden, the masses that had considered purchasing a DVD player but then delayed, rushed out to pick one up. Within a couple of weeks they were completely sold out and then before long other stores started to stock their own budget DVD players and they became commonplace in UK homes.
Until Blu-ray adopts that strategy, I just can’t see them making a dent in the film rental arena and that’s before we even consider their aggressive digital rights management or the competition from digital downloads.
However, a sub-£100 Blu-ray player will place it in the domain of ‘can afford this being a waste of time’ for a great many users and vastly increase the installed user base. Until then, Blu-ray seems set for nothing more than the digital junkyard. Sony should have the sense to avoid this outcome, after all, they have been there before with another piece of technologically sound but overpriced product: the consumer Betamax format.

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