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Blu-ray Disc format penetration is growing, despite competition from old stalwart DVD. The format’s penetration has doubled since July 2008, with 17% of U.S. households owning at least one Blu-ray device in July 2010, according to research from Centris Market Intelligence (see story, cover). I’d say that’s a pretty good run so far for a high-def disc that only won the format war in February 2008 and then faced a brutal recession.
Unfortunately, Blu-ray still can’t catch a break, even while gaining significant ground. Industry pundits are still pointing out that it’s no DVD. But I think that was clear from the beginning. Blu-ray always was destined to be different from its predecessor. I didn’t expect it to match the pattern of the first disc format to be sold directly to consumers in breadth. DVD had the advantage of the first crack at truly selling catalog directly to consumers, in addition to the inception of the TV DVD business. No one bought much TV product on VHS.
In comparison to DVD’s advantages in the marketplace when it debuted, Blu-ray has a harder row to hoe. What may make Blu-ray a bigger star is 3D.
In the 3D arena, Blu-ray has a clear advantage over video-on-demand and Internet streaming options. Those two distribution avenues cannot possibly match the quality of 3D on Blu-ray. The application could in fact offer a new dimension to Blu-ray sales.
At first, I admittedly was a little skeptical about the 3D wave, and it’s potential for the high-definition format. I’d seen a few bad versions of the new 3D technology (one film actually gave me a headache), and I couldn’t see how that would possibly be an engine for growth in the home.
But now I’ve noticed growing studio and hardware support behind 3D — even in hard economic times.
Anecdotally, 3D in the home seems to be fascinating consumers as well. At a recent Costco, I noticed an older man comment to his wife that the picture on a flat-screen TV on display looked blurry, which sounded like a bad sign for 3D. Then, he noticed the glasses in front of the TV, and looked through.
“Oh, wow!” he said.
That same “wow” factor may be the ticket to more Blu-ray growth.
By: Sydney Prange