Katie Meyer Samantha Semeraro Brandon Tynan March 12, 2009 Great Ideas: Capstone Blu-Ray Technology Past, Present and Future
PAST The Blu-Ray project was officially announced in February of 2002 by the Blu-Ray Disc Association. The idea behind the Blu-Ray discs was a way to provide more space on a DVD so movies and other material could be recorded in high definition which takes up more space than a CD could provide. A Blu-Ray disc can provide six times more storage space than the average DVD or CD. (Sanderson, p.31) The first Blu-Ray players were released to stores in April of 2003 followed later by the release of movie titles in June 2006. Although the development of Blu-Ray technology is fairly new to the mass communication world, it is quickly picking up momentum for popularity as a consumer based product. Blu-Ray DVD is predicted to surpass the sales of DVDâ€™s over the next six years (Paul Scott, personal communication, Mar 11, 2009) Recently, Blu-Ray has been gaining more recognition from winning the format battle against HD DVD. Both mediums, Blu-Ray backed by Sony and HD DVD backed by Toshiba were trying to create the same product but in different formats. Blu-Ray and HD DVD products have both been competing against one and other in the market to become the superior medium. The format battle between the two companies was significant because if you chose to buy an HD DVD player, you won't be able to play films from Sony Pictures, Disney/Buena Vista or Fox. If you buy a Blu-ray player you won't be able to play films from Universal or Paramount. (Sanderson, p.31) Neither
format was compatible with one and other. The lack of compatibility made it harder for consumers to choose which product to invest in. There were a few reasons as to why Blu-Ray won the battle over HD DVD. The first was that Blu-Ray players were installed in Play Station 3 while the newest version of X-Box, released by Microsoft a year before was not equipped with an HD DVD player. A second reason as to why Blu-Ray won was because it could hold almost twice as much data than that of an HD DVD. Blu-Ray disc hold 50 gigs while HD DVD can only hold 25 gigs. According to Paul Scott, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Blu-Ray technology, another reason Blu-Ray won the battle was because they were much more aggressive in getting companies like Warner Brother and Disney to back their production.
(Paul Scott, personal communication, Mar 11, 2009). Similarly, David Sanderson, reporter for the London Times stated that Blu-Ray won the battle because ultimately, more major producing companies including Hollywood studios, Walt Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, News Corp and more importantly Warner Brothers were all backing the Blu-Ray format (Sanderson, p.31). Along with the
backing from Warner Brothers came backing from Wal-Mart stores. (Sound & Video Contractor). Though it was a close battle between the two formats, Toshiba’s HD DVD gave up the battle in February of 2008 after experiencing lower gross sales.
PRESENT Blu-ray has definitely had its struggles since the format's inception, with the format war against HD DVD, high prices, and hardware that wasn't fully baked. But the format has made a lot of progress in the last couple of years, so for movie lovers who want the most out of their high-def home theaters. “Blu-ray is currently supported by about 200 of the world's leading consumer electronics, personal computer, recording media, video game and music companies.”
Though it has been around for some time Blu-ray has yet to catch on in the mainstream consumer world. However now that the format war between Blu-Ray and HD DVD, the trend will soon take off. Now that a format has been chosen, manufacturers have been “ramping up production of Blu-ray players and slashing prices” (Horowitz, 2008). Players that once cost around $1000 are being sold for as low as $230 and experts are predicting an even lower drop in price. Backwards capability allows regular DVDs to be played and assures that current movie collections will not go obsolete. Many players now are also equipped with slots for a USB drive or SD card, so users can display their photos or listen to music through the television. Superior resolution is a big part of what makes Blu-ray look great. The technical difference is that Blu-ray's maximum resolution is 1,920x1,080 (1080p), while DVD is limited to 720x480 (480p). To the average consumer, this means a more detailed image: more clearly defined strands of hair, wrinkles in clothing among other things. Blu-ray also uses better videocompression methods, resulting in more contrast and richer colors. (www.bluray.com) The increased quality is immediately noticeable, but Blu-ray offers so much more than just enhanced quality viewing. Other features include interactive games, the ability to bookmark and tag favorite scenes and a timeline to show your location in the movie as you fast forward or rewind. Sony’s Play Station 3 now has a built in Blu-ray so ideal for gamers who enjoy high definitionThe latest that Blu-ray has to offer is BD-Live also known as Blue-ray 2.0. Blu-ray players capable with BD-live are able to connect to the internet for software updates and unlocking special features available on the discs themselves. “Blu-ray movie sales have jumped 50 percent in the first three months of this year, from 6 million at the end of 2007 to 9 million 11 weeks into 2008” (Mellor, 2008). However with the
recent downturn in the economy sales have been slower-than-expected sales of the nextgeneration format, now in its third year. As a result studios have been forced to come up with new ways to make their discs more attractive. These actions have included adding more features like short films and extra footage, as well as interactivity and digital versions to load onto iPods and computers. Disney's however has gone one step further. They are packaging DVDs and Blu-rays together with digital copies in three-packs that give consumers the option to own and watch a film however and wherever they want. (Grasser, 2009) Another current but surprising trend is the increased theft of Blu-rays, and though it is never good that products are being stolen, this maybe a good sign for Blu-rays. It means that people actually want Blu-ray Discs, regardless of whether the thieves are keeping the discs or selling them. The most persistent argument against Blu-ray is that consumers just don't care about the new technology, and this seems to be another data point indicating that's not the case. (McKenna, 2009) According to Kevin Tsujihara, President of the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, â€œA two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and indifference toward high definition, which has kept the technology from reaching mass adoption. Consumers have clearly chosen Blu-ray, and we believe that recognizing this preference is the right step in making this great home entertainment experience accessible to the widest possible audience.'' (Television Week, 2008). With this conclusion, the future of Blu-Ray format looks very promising to Sony and consumers.
FUTURE Experts are confident that the future of Blu-ray is bright. Media research analysts at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show say that sales of Blu-ray disks will double or triple in the coming year. One analyst even made claims that sales would increase to five or six times what they are now. However, these claims seem to go against what worried executives are saying. (Fritz, 2009) These executives say that sales have been slower than expected for Blu-ray the past few years and that it isnâ€™t making up for rapidly falling DVD sales. They worry that the lack of Bluray players in computers and other portable devices are keeping people away. One executive predicted that it could be several years before Blu-ray sales surpass standard DVD sales. (Graser, 2009) One way in which studios are trying to make Blu-ray disks more appealing is through BD Live. BD Live is a technology that allows you to access additional content with Blu-ray players that are connected to the Internet. This content would allow viewers access to not only bonus content such as trailers and deleted scenes, but also gain them access to an online community of fans. Interactivity is the buzzword here. Blu-ray owners would be able to chat with other movie fans and even schedule live chats with filmmakers while watching the movie, or compare scores worldwide on mini games included on the disc. (Ascent Media Group, 2009; Bray, 2009) BD Live also shows promise in the music world. Many live concerts, music documentaries, and other music video titles are being release on Blu-ray. Viewers would be able to use BD Live to see what the artists are up to now, look at concert dates, and download exclusive new material. An executive for Universal calls BD Live an aspect of Blu-ray that has enormous potential. (Barrett, 2008)
Some people, however, are skeptical of this potential. One critic recently complained that most of the options available through BD Live are just as easily available through the Internet, without having to buy a Blu-ray disc to access them. Viewers who wanted to access BD Live would not only have to buy a newer BD live capable Blu-ray player, they would have to own the disc whose content they wanted to access. For example, the movie “Wanted” allows Blu-ray owners to share their favorite scenes with their friends through BD Live, however in order to share the clip the person’s friends must already own a Blu-ray version of Wanted. Critics wonder why someone would want to do this, why not just watch the movie together with your friends? (Bray, 2009)
Blu-Ray Technology Past, Present and Future Bibliography
About. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from Blu-Ray.com Web site: http://www.blu-ray.com/
Ascent Media Group, Akamai and Sofatronic Team to Power Blu-ray Disc(R) Live Platform. (2009, January 21). Electronics Business Journal, p. 126.
Barrett, C. (2008, October 18). DVD: VISUAL TREATS IN STORE. Music Week, p. 20.
(2008, January 7 ) Blink. Television Week
Bray, H. (2009, March 5). Latest Blu-ray with Net connection falls short on delivery. The Boston dads Globe , p. B5.
Fritz, B. (9, January 2009). CES bullish on Blu-ray. Daily Variety, p. 1.
Graser, M. (2009, March 2). Blu-ray combos: Two for (almost) the price of one. Variety, p. 6.
Horowitz, E What can Blu do for you?. (2008, November 16). Orlando Sentinel.
McKenna, Chuck (2009, January 8). Blu-ray disc: The state of the industry. Retrieved March 7, dads 2009, from www.electronichouse.com Web site: www.electronichouse.com
Mellor, C (2008, April 7) Storage Microscope.
Sanderson, David (2008, January, 5). Choice of DVD player gets a little clearer. The London dads Times, p. Home News, p.31
Sauer, Jeff (2008). HD DVD is Dead, Long Live HD. Sound & Video Contractor, Retrieved March 31, 2009
Paul Scott, personal communication, Mar 11, 2009