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Blu-ray Player Prices Keep Falling

25 Sep, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Entering the fourth quarter, consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers continue to aggressively scale back Blu-ray player pricing.

Venerable consumer electronics manufacturer Memorex unveiled a Profile 1.1 MVBD-2510 player with picture-in-picture capability (but no Web connectivity) for $269 — the lowest opening retail price for a Blu-ray player on the market. It is slated to street online and at retail in November. Wal-Mart in July bowed a Magnavox Profile 1.1 player for $298 (now $278), at the time the least expensive standalone Blu-ray player (without discounts) available.

“We introduced a Blu-ray Disc player that offers consumers the full high-definition viewing experience, but at a price almost anyone can afford,” said Carla Pihowich, Memorex brand director, Imation Corp.

Citing higher hardware and software pricing and margins associated with Blu-ray, analysts had projected median retail prices for Blu-ray players would hover around $300 this holiday season, and only fall to $200 a year from now.

Retailers and manufacturers appear to be expediting that time line, especially with Samsung product.

Circuit City, in its weekly circular, offered the BD-Live compatible BDP-1500 for $299 after an instant $100 discount. Last week, the chain featured a home theater system with HDTV display and Blu-ray player for $799.

Spokesperson Jim Babb said the No. 2 consumer electronics retailer has increased store space demonstrating Blu-ray and bundling players with HDTV. He said the demos play an educational role to consumers and give them an idea how an HD home theater system looks and sounds.

“Incorporating Blu-ray into bundles with home theater and HDTV is consistent with our effort to offer consumers great values on systems that will give them the best home viewing experience,” Babb said. “We’re glad to offer packages that simplify the shopping process and maximize value.”

Best Buy, which earlier this month cut $10 (to $249.99) from the price of its proprietary Insignia brand Profile 1.1 Blu-ray player, now offers the unit online for $229.

The Profile 1.1 player, which originally bowed for $349.99, is available with an additional $100 discount when co-purchased with an Insignia 1080p high-definition television.

Other Blu-ray player deals include the Video & Audio Center chain in Southern California selling Sony’s Profile 1.1 BDP-S300 for $287. Ken Crane’s Big Screen Headquarters is selling Samsung’s BDP-1500 for $298.

Amazon lowered the bar further, offering previously owned Sony BDP-S300 models for $199, and $229 new.

Independent analyst Rob Enderle said the declining prices underscored consumer’s tepid response to Blu-ray, a frame of mind he said won’t improve with the bleak economic headlines.

“There are increasing concerns that this holiday season will be [retail’s] last real shot with Blu-ray,” Enderle said. “No one wants to be stuck with inventory. We are likely to see several vendors purge inventory before the quarter is done.”

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