There is an industry belief that the reason why hi def player and movie sales have been slow is because consumers are waiting for the market to settle on one format. But I believe the slow progress is due to two other reasons, and nothing to do with the above.
For one, hid def players are too expensive. Consumers are used to picking up a DVD player for less than $100 these days, and they have every right to expect that for hi def players. Today, full 1080p players for both Blu-ray and HD DVD retail at a thousand bucks.
Secondly, consumers for the most part, know nothing about the format war. They have seen the “HD” in Peyton Manning commercials, they have seen “Presented in HD” at the start of HBO shows, but they don’t really know what HD DVD is and especially what Blu-ray is.
At a basic level, it is confusing. Consumers know what a DVD is. It is what replaced a VHS tape. A “Blu-ray” disc is sort of a sub-brand of DVD, rather than a replacement of the DVD. It will take a lot of marketing to get consumers to give up the “DVD” label. What makes it hard, is that it is essentially the same technology.
A Blu-ray disc looks no different, in the packaging and the contents, than the DVD we have been buying for years. Contrast that with the introduction of a totally different product like a “Blu-laser” that would beam data straight into your television via a USB stick. Consumers would immediately associate this new technology with the “brand” named “Blu-ray”, and the transition would occur quite easily and painlessly.
Today’s brand “Blu-ray”, has no unique identity associated with it except that holds more data. And, although it has been marketed, it has so far unsuccessfully perpetrated the vast consumer market. To make a comparison, a breakthrough product such as the Segway was easily established as a brand. It couldn’t have been called a bike, or scooter, or wheelchair. It had no equals and no competition. And so it could have been called a “Widget” and still have been successful.
Blu-ray Disc has a real challenge ahead of them. Not only do they have a product that is not at all unique, they have a worthy competitor in HD DVD. HD DVD has the easier brand to sell, simply because it looks like an upgrade to the DVD. And unfortunately for Blu-ray Disc, it doesn’t look like HD DVD is going away any time soon.