Paul Sweeting at ContentAgenda argues that Blu-ray needs to stop pretending it’s a revolutionary new format like DVD and start acting like what it is…a minor quality improvement that consumers won’t pay any more for.
The first order of Blu-ray business for 2009 is an adjustment in strategic planning around the format, by both hardware makers and the studios, some of which will happen naturally but some of which will be forced on the industry.
First and foremost, the PlayStation 3 Trojan Horse strategy has been a bust. For a number of reasons (some related to Blu-ray, some not) the PS3 has fallen into a distant third in the game-console sweepstakes, behind the Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s Wii.
Whatever else you can say about PS3, it isn’t driving Blu-ray hardware penetration and whatever it is contributing on that score is not driving sales of Blu-ray software.
If Blu-ray is going to succeed, it needs to succeed on its own, as a single-purpose, playback-only home movie format…
Secondly, and as a corollary to the first point, the industry needs to be honest with itself about what it’s really offering consumers.
From the point of view of the consumer, Blu-ray offers incremental improvement over standard DVD, in the same form-factor but no compelling new functionality. Nor does it deliver the sort of game-changing new consumer proposition that DVD delivered by establishing a purchased-based home video economy to replace the largely rental-based VHS economy.
All of which means Blu-ray must be marketed, merchandised and—most importantly—priced for what it is, not for what the industry might wish it were.
What it is, is a fancy DVD player for those who want to get the most out of their HDTV sets.