Q&A: Is ‘BD-Live’ Coming too Soon?

In the May 7 edition of HD Notebook, Sony laid out some of its strategy for pushing its next-gen of Blu-ray products, BD-Live, which will combine packaged media and online enhancements not yet available with most current Blu-ray players or with standard DVD. But a few analysts, including Steven Wilson of ABI Research, think this early marketing tactic by Blu-ray may be ill-advised. Wilson spoke with HD Notebook.

HD Notebook: Why do you think something as relatively complex as BD-Live may be coming too soon?

Wilson: Some of it is the cost. The current high price of Blu-ray players, coupled with many other secondary challenges, keeps buyers on the sidelines. [Besides that], today we have these ‘upscaling’ [standard] DVD players which typically produce image quality somewhere between SD and HD as a low-cost alternative, and many consumers can’t tell much difference. And many consumers aren’t willing to pay a premium of $200 or more for a Blu-ray player.

HD Notebook: Having said that, then how do you see BD-Live evolving?

Wilson: The spec could have been defined as such that there was a basic [Blu-ray] player that doesn’t require Internet connectivity. Although there are no plans to do this, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Blu-ray Disc Association did that down the road. It would save little in cost, but it would significantly reduce the software complexity and test requirements of the platform.

Furthermore, it’s the Internet connectivity features that will differentiate BD players down the road. It further wouldn’t surprise me to see BD players adopt personal connectivity features such as USB, WiFi and Bluetooth, in effect, making the BD player a central digital player hub in the living room.