Blu-ray Remains, but Will it Survive?

Blu-ray Disc may have come out the lone winner in the HD disc wars when Toshiba called off its HD DVD campaign, but according to some analysts, such as iSuppli, the victory doesn’t guarantee consumers will automatically shift to the next (and noticeably more expensive) level of DVD packaged entertainment.

The perceived threat to Blu-ray: cable TV and a growing array of online-delivered movies, TV shows, and other video-on-demand via such diverse sources as and Netflix, perhaps eventually including HD content. “The demise of HD DVD will reduce consumer confusion, since everyone will talk about a single next-generation DVD player and the benefits of owning such a player,” said David Carnevale, iSuppli’s vice president of multimedia content and services. “But the biggest question of them all now is: Do consumers even care?”

The iSuppli exec said the growing competition for downloading to a series of devices begs the question—do consumers even want or need a physical copy of their movies or TV programs anymore? As faster broadband pipes and newer technologies come online, physical media distribution could become a thing of the past, he said.

Another obstacle for Blu-ray is the prices for such players are likely to remain at high levels, especially now that the competitor is out of the equation, said iSuppli.

And The Economist magazine from London, in its Feb. 23 edition, said the Internet “is the [movie] industry’s best hope for future revenue growth. The rightful successor to the DVD is not Blu-ray or anything else. It is the web.”