What if you won the battle but lost the war? Blu-ray technology beat out HD DVD as the high definition format for DVD movies, but the products have hardly rocketed off the launch pad. A report from market watcher NPD indicates that 45% of American consumers are aware of Blu-ray, up nearly a third from last year’s 35% level. However, only 6% have plans to buy a Blu-ray player. What’s worse is that only 9% of HDTV owners say that they plan to buy a Blu-ray player in the next six months. It does not look as though Blu-ray is going to be the hot ticket this year.
So expect to see manufacturers and retailers do what they can to move these players, because without an installed base for the players, there’s no demand for the Blu-ray DVD movie discs. In fact, Wal-Mart has announced that starting on Sunday, June 8, and running for just one week through June 14, they will be offering a $100 gift card with any Blu-ray player purchase. The retailer also plans to sell select Blu-ray DVD titles for $15 each.
It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to woo consumers away from their “good enough” standard definition DVDs that look pretty good when scaled up to HDTV resolutions. Given the current state of the economy and the increasing competition from downloadable movie rentals, I don’t expect Blu-ray to become an overnight sensation.