Sony’s Blu-ray Disc technology still has significant hurdles ahead of it, says a research firm, with the standard-definition DVD format still on pace to trounce the high-definition movie format in terms of consumer adoption.
According to new market data released by ABI Research, a bright future for the high-definition movie format is not a foregone conclusion, even though Blu-ray has been victorious in its battle with Toshiba’s rival HD-DVD format.
One of the primary challenges facing Blu-ray, says ABI Research’s principal analyst Steve Wilson, is that many consumers are not dissatisfied with the quality delivered by their conventional DVD players when “upconverted” to play on HDTVs.
“We are starting to see an increase in the number of DVD players with built-in upconverters, and the video processing is getting better with each new generation,” said Wilson. “Today about 35 percent of all DVD players sold include upconversion. ABI Research expects that figure to climb to about 60% by 2013.”
In addition, says Wilson, the state of the Blu-ray player market is not all that encouraging. Wilson says the Blu-ray installed base is currently heavily tilted toward the PlayStation 3. “The [movie] studios better hope that people are playing movies on their PlayStations,” said Wilson. “Otherwise there’s very little installed base.”
Wilson said that about 85 percent of the Blu-ray players in the market in 2008 will be accounted for in the PS3. The number of dedicated Blu-ray players, either in stand-alone home-entertainment devices or BD-equipped PCs, won’t catch up in terms of market share until about 2013.
In an effort to spur the market, optical disc manufacturers are lowering prices, and PC manufacturers are offering lower-cost configurations. Bare-bones PCs with Blu-ray players are arriving.
“But if you’re only going to spend $500 to $600 on a PC, are you really going to spend 40 percent more for a built-in Blu-ray player?” asked Wilson.
Meanwhile consumer electronics manufacturers are maintaining high prices for dedicated players. “The studios had hoped to have settled the war,” Wilson concludes, “but I think they’re going to be disappointed when they don’t see the volumes of players going up they way they would have liked.”
ABI Research’s complete Consumer Video Technologies Forecast is available here. The report contains segmented market forecast data for LCD, RPTV, Direct View, plasma TV, DLP, RPTV and FPTV, DVD players, DVD recorders, HD-DVD players and recorders, standalone PVRs, AV receivers, game consoles and portable game consoles, HTIB, portable audio and video players and cameras, SLRs and camcorders.