It was a relief when the format war between HD and Blu-ray was finally settled in early 2008, but where do we stand almost two years down the track?
In many ways, the growth in Blu-Ray sales has been frustrating for us. It’s inevitable that the financial outlay to purchase expensive hardware (at least in the early days) to cater for the latest format will struggle to turn enough sales to be justified. As duplication professionals, we rely on maintaining sales volumes at a sufficient level to cover overheads and to finance development of future mediums.
Much like DVD in its infancy, the price was high, volumes were low and the future felt unknown. Blu-Ray presents similar challenges and will no doubt take some time to cement its viability.
Having said all this, recent research has shown that Blu-ray technology is being embraced much faster than anybody predicted. Currently more than 1 in 10 households in Australia have a Blu-ray player, with 2009 showing a 400% increase in player sales against 2008.
It’s exciting to note that when compared to the same point in the DVD’s lifecycle, Blu-ray has seen a much faster rate of growth. It seems the dramatic benefits that Blu-ray offers (full High definition picture, advanced navigation systems and significantly better sound quality) are starting to catch on.
So where does this leave you when deciding what format to use? I guess the first question is to ask is whether your target audience has the technology available to them. If you are releasing an independent film, it may be necessary initially to offer both DVD and Blu-ray versions (or risk alienating up to 90% of your audience). The downside of this is that Blu-ray while still relatively expensive drops significantly for quantities above 1,000 (beyond the reach of most film makers).
On the flipside, if you are looking to transfer home movies, the additional cost to move to hi-definition transfer to Blu-ray is minimal and IMHO the bang for your buck definitely justifies the additional cost.
These two examples illustrate my second deciding point, quantity. If you are looking at very small volumes (10 or less), or more than 1,000 units, Blu-ray is an attractive option.
The third deciding factor to consider is compatibility. Just like DVD in its first few years, there were a range of issues associated with burnt or duplicated discs. If your requirement for Blu-ray is less than 1,000 units, most likely you will be looking at burning the discs from blank BD media rather than using the manufacture option which is available for larger volumes (1000 +). The issue may not prove to be chronic, only time will tell, however the lesson from DVD was that it took several generations of DVD players and advancements in blank disc manufacturing processes before a high level of reliability was achieved. It will be interested to see if Blu-ray presents the same challenges.