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Midwest, Military Retailers to Bow Sub-$100 Blu-ray Players

18 Nov, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Movie consumers in the Midwest and in the military will have the opportunity to purchase Blu-ray Disc players for as little as $89 on Black Friday, heretofore the lowest advertised retail prices for the high-definition packaged-media hardware.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is offering the Web-enabled (BD Live) Sharp Aquos Blu-ray player for $99, according to an online posting.

Earlier this week, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retail chain Meijer said it would sell a Sylvania Blu-ray player (without Internet connectivity) for $89.

With about a week to go before Black Friday, when retailers traditionally usher in the winter holiday shopping season by slashing prices to loss-leader levels to lure consumers into stores, big box chains appear to be racing to cut packaged-media hardware and software prices to record lows.

Indeed, analysts believe many consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers through Black Friday will drastically cut prices on amortized, non-connected Blu-ray players in order to escalate consumer interest in the high-definition format.

Richard Doherty, director of The Envisioneering Group, a Seaford, N.Y.-based technology consulting firm, said the CE industry is cautiously optimistic the $100 Blu-ray players expected between Black Friday and Christmas will be profitable versus a loss-leader designed to entice shoppers. He said the good news regarding the discounted players currently on store shelves is their high functionality, including Internet connectivity and BD Live.

“We’re not sure the sub-$100 players that may debut at $88 or $97 from Wal-Mart and others are going to be a full-featured,” Doherty said.

He added that the cuts underscore the reality that BD players previously priced from $350 are now below $150, often bundled with select movies for special weekend promotions.

“There’s expected to be quite a price roller-coaster vacillation between now and Christmas,” Doherty said.

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