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Going Blu in Suburbia

18 Aug, 2008 By: Stephanie Prange

The neighbors are turning Blu.

While this isn't by any means a scientific study, anecdotal evidence in my Orange County, Calif., neighborhood shows consumers are warming to Blu-ray Disc.

In the past month, two households have picked up players and, for the first time, started asking to borrow Blu-ray Discs instead of DVDs.

And they didn't buy the popular PlayStation 3 game console, either; they got standalone Blu-ray players, which do one thing and one thing only — play movies. Obviously, they are buying them for the Blu-ray capability and plan to buy Blu-ray movies.

Another indicator is the attitude of my children, who immediately ask if a title I bring home is Blu-ray or just plain-old DVD.

As we hold our breath waiting to see if consumers will embrace the new high-definition disc, it's comforting to me to see changes in my little section of the world.

When my neighbors started renting from Netflix, I began to believe in the staying power of the online DVD rental service (particularly since there was a Blockbuster Video less than a mile away).

Other indications also are good for Blu-ray.

A study from ABI Research found 75% of respondents planned on buying a Blu-ray player by 2009.

Also, an In-Stat survey reiterated the pull of packaged media, with more than half of respondents saying they preferred hard goods when buying movies or TV shows. Even younger viewers in the study preferred packaged media, with its cover art and extras.

“That bodes well for Blu-ray,” In-Stat analyst Gerry Kaufhold said.

Blu-ray disc unit sales in the first half of 2008 were up 340% from the first six months of 2007, according to Nielsen VideoScan data. And, looking at our weekly numbers since then, Blu-ray seems to be gaining momentum on a week-by-week basis as well.

Driving to work this week, I heard a commercial for Dish Network's “TurboHD,” which touted 1080p resolution “as good as Blu-ray.” That's not a bad thing. When big competitors start comparing themselves to Blu-ray, you know it's on its way to success.

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