Will Blu-ray Skyrocket or Dive-Bomb?
The optimists are the folks at Strategy Analytics. In a survey entitled "Blu-ray Devices: Forecasting Sales and Ownership," analyst David Mercer says: "HD-DVD's withdrawal leaves the way open for Blu-ray to become a major revenue earner for technology vendors and content owners alike. The 265 million homes [worldwide] that will own an HDTV by 2012, and Hollywood's need for a new growth engine, represent huge incentives for the industry to coordinate marketing activities and demonstrate unified support for the successor to DVD."
Mercer predicts 29.4 million new BD players will penetrate homes by year-end, largely driven by PS3 sales. After 2009 BD hardware sales will be driven more by standalone players, with Mercer predicting 132 million households by 2012, or about half the number of households owning an HDTV.
The pessimist is Laurie Fincham, scientific grey eminence of THX. In the wake of HD DVD's demise, it's "too late for Blu-ray," he told Home Cinema Choice Magazine (picked up by DVD Town). He says flash memory, not Blu-ray, will be the ultimate replacement for DVD: "Do we really need another spinning format?"
"In the future," Fincham continued, "I want to be able to carry four to five movies around with me in a wallet, or walk into a store and have someone copy me a movie to a USB device. Stores will like that idea, because it's all about having zero inventory. I don't want to take up shelf space with dozens of HD movies. By the time Blu-ray really finds a mass market, we will have 128GB cards. I would guess that getting studios to supply movies on media cards, or offer downloads, will be a lot easier than getting them to sign up to support a disc format."
The DVD Town story caused a flurry both throughout the internet and at THX. Graham McKenna, senior PR manager at THX, offered this response to the story in DVD Town: "THX recognizes the quality and benefits that the Blu-ray HD format brings to the home theater experience.... At its very core, THX is about advancing the quality of the entertainment experience, whether that is on optical disc, downloads or other emerging media. I believe Mr. Fincham's comments reflect that broader goal."
McKenna added in a email to HT News, referring to the wording of our subhead and lead graf: "Neither THX nor Mr. Fincham have ever declared that the Blu ray format is 'doomed.' Quite the contrary, THX is dedicated to supporting Blu-ray with many new technologies, certification programs and other initiatives. Mr. Fincham was simply discussing the future of movies on downloads, optical discs and other emerging media."