As the high-def format war finally runs out of steam and Blu-ray has been named the winner, some are wondering what the future of the format will look like.
Will it be the unbridled success DVD was? Will it go the way of the Laser Disc and become more a bridge format than anything else? Or will it be long forgotten as just another attempt to force people into buying the same movies all over again as they wait in anxious anticipation of whatever comes next?
If you ask me, Blu-ray will never be the success DVD was and chances are, it'll be one of the forgotten formats that people scoffed at as they continued to download their favorite films online.
The way I see it, there are three main reasons why Blu-ray will never take off the way DVD did and most people won't even consider making the jump to the new format.
1. The quality jump is not that great
Where Blu-ray excels is in its ability to store data. Instead of the old 4.7GB on DVD, Blu-ray is capable of storing 25GB on a single-layer and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. But when it comes to what the average person will use it for -- film viewing -- the differences between the two formats are not that great.
When you run a regular DVD through a 1080p upconverting DVD player, the picture may not be as crisp as Blu-ray, but even the trained eye will be hard-pressed to find so many differences that a change in format would be necessary.
Do you remember the jump in quality that was experienced between VHS and DVD? If so, you'll probably recall just how beautiful DVDs looked and how disgusting those old VHS tapes were; the jump was huge. It was so huge in fact, that most people realized the value in buying DVDs and players, which effectively ended the VHS' reign as the top media in the land.
But the same can't be said for Blu-ray. Is it high-def? Sure. Does it look nice? Yep. But is the jump so big that you would consider throwing your DVD player out the window and move on to the next big thing because your old media looks ugly? Not a chance.
2. Old entertainment sales will be slow
If nothing else, the DVD generation has been marked by a huge upswing of sales on television shows and old movies. In fact, it's that segment -- specialty entertainment -- that really helped the format grow at such a rapid rate.
Realizing they could have just about any of their favorite shows, people flocked to the stores looking for each new season. But if they own each and every season of Law and Order, why would they want to buy it again on Blu-ray? Beyond that, how many people would be willing to repurchase their entire library just to get it in HD?
And although some say that's not even an issue and they'll gladly watch DVDs on their Blu-ray player, it goes far beyond individuals. If Blu-ray movies or television shows aren't selling because people already own a DVD copy, a significant portion of that market is eliminated.
Simply put, it's as if Blu-ray has lost the first 100 hundred years of movies and television and they'll never come back. What will that do to sales? I think it could be damning to say the least.
3. The wild card -- movie downloads
So far, movie downloads have yet to take the world by storm. But as they continue to surge in popularity, aren't the days of a set-top box and Blu-ray numbered? After all, if we're finally able to enjoy faster broadband speeds and split-second downloads of films, why would we need another player under the TV? Wouldn't it just be easier to download it directly to a set-top box that can be viewed on the TV?
Of course, this is already being done to some extent with the help of cable companies currently offering HD movie downloads on their boxes. But as the brick-and-mortar movie rental business continues to decline, and people find that they want movies directly in the home, the chances of Blu-ray dominating the industry are slim.
Simply put, Blu-ray looks more like a bridge to something bigger and better to me and nothing like DVD, which will always be known as one of the most groundbreaking formats of the last half-century.
So yes, Blu-ray may have won the battle with HD DVD, but in my mind, it's simply impossible for the company to win the war with consumers.