Blu-ray Discs Becoming the Norm?

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Congratulations America: you've been upgraded. Blu-ray Disc media are becoming the norm in the United States, and that pattern is set to extend across western Europe and Japan this year, according to Futuresource consulting (PDF). The firm also says the Blu-ray Disc players are on track for explosive growth in 2009, and could sell in excess of 100 million units worldwide by year's end.

Why Blu-ray Will Grow

Futuresource attributes Blu-ray's projected expansion due to the popularity of HDTVs, as well as steadily dropping prices of Blu-ray players. This is why--despite the economic downturn--Futuresource is betting that Blu-ray discs will have a good year.

2008: A Rough Start for Blu-ray

But if 2009 is going to be the year of Blu-ray, then 2008 could rightly be called the year of the Blu-ray naysayers. Despite Sony Blu-ray's decisive win over Toshiba's HD-DVD, many critics were not ready to give Blu-ray the high-def crown. In September, the consensus was that Blu-ray Disc prices were not going to drop any time soon, then in November Blu-ray's holiday season did not look good. Blu-ray chugged along, though, and it turned out that Sony's format had a breakout Christmas season after all. Then in January, the first portable Blu-ray player hit the market, and just a few days ago Blu-ray disc prices started to drop.

Now it's not as though last year's assumptions about Blu-ray products were unfounded. As Futuresource points out, consumer interest in Blu-ray was not exactly compelling. According to their numbers, Blu-ray Disc makers churned out 200 million units in 2008, but only sold around 36 million of them. Some of that shortfall can be accounted for by multi-disc sets and promotional giveaways, but that still left a lot of discs sitting on store shelves.

Will Blu-ray Be Defunct Before Its Time?

However, turning over from 2008 to 2009 seems to be making all the difference, and the momentum should just keep building. By 2012, Futuresource predicts that 50 percent of U.S. homes and 35 percent of western European households will go Blu-ray. That seems like a relatively fast jump, considering that a Blu-ray conversion requires both a new TV and a new DVD player for some. There's also the question of where movie downloads will be over the next few years. Do people still want to own an actual disc they can hold in their hands, or is a set-top box that you can use to download movies a preferred alternative?

I know what my answer would be, but let's put the question to you: Are you part of the early Blu-ray majority, or do you plan on keeping your DVD player as long as possible? Are you forgoing discs entirely in favor of digital downloads?

This story, "Blu-ray Discs Becoming the Norm?" was originally published by PCWorld.

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