Green for Blu on Black Friday?24 Nov, 2008 By: Stephanie Prange
On my way back from Prague last month I had a short conversation about high-definition with a customs official. He asked me what I did and I told him I edited a magazine that covered DVD and Blu-ray Disc.
He told me he really wanted to buy a PlayStation 3, but would wait until the hardware became more affordable.
“I just need a better price,” he said.
Well, this holiday season he may get his wish, perhaps not on the PS3, but on standalone Blu-ray players that are now rivaling the price of upconverting DVD models. Wal-Mart’s rumored $128 Blu-ray player is poised to break new ground in the high-def hardware market. And that is just one of the price leaks on Blu-ray players for Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving.
The race to the bottom on pricing in less shakey economic times might be more cause for concern. But in this economic environment, I think it’s a necessity. Blu-ray can’t wait another year to have a breakout holiday season.
Having low-price leader Wal-Mart behind your product should be celebrated in this market. The discounter is advertising the affordability of Blu-ray as a home entertainment option, calling attention to its quality for a great price. The industry will benefit.
In survey after survey about high-definition discs, price comes up as a top concern for consumers looking at buying into the new format. At the same time, the desire to purchase consumer electronics over the holidays remains high despite the economic climate. Taking that price objection off the table could make Blu-ray a winner this holiday season when many other suppliers will be singing a different kind of blues.
If the industry makes a wave with low-priced Blu-ray hardware this holiday season, there will be an installed base for the format that may be willing to upgrade when the economy turns around. With prices so low, I’m already contemplating buying a second Blu-ray player, now that my DVD player is on the fritz.
While Blu-ray Disc backers are somewhat unlucky to have the format hit its stride in tough times, they should take solace in the fact that retailers such as Wal-Mart are firmly behind the format.