Why Blu-ray still needs a killer app to succeed

Blu-ray may have already won over certain switched-on consumers - movie enthusiasts and some gamers - but for it to become truly mass market and to enjoy DVD-like sales of hardware and software it needs a killer app.

The movie industry is doing its bit by offering Blu-ray/DVD and Digital Copy combi packs - Disney Pixar's Up being one example - but that already hints at what maybe Blu-ray's fundamental problem.

Unlike VHS and DVD before it, Blu-ray exists in a world where video is readily available from all kinds of sources - online, offline, through subscription TV services, by PC, smartphone, PVRs, even internet connected TVs and games consoles. It needs, in the words of Lovefilm's Simon Morris to be able to pull an 'elephant out of the hat' – a killer app that no-one can ignore.

Blu-ray recording and 3D Blu-ray

None of the people we spoke to were really that enthused by Blu-ray recording, the mass market appeal of high def or even the prospect of watching 3D movies at home on their own.

Roger Batchelor from Denon says: "It is yet to be seen whether 3D will be as big as some are predicting. I think the jury's still out... there are still issues to be sorted out for 3D to become standard in the home: different formats, connectivity and backwards compatibility. No doubt these will be sorted eventually, but it will take a little time."

This isn't stopping the industry from pushing 3D Blu-ray players, though – just this week, Panasonic unveiled its DMP-BDT300 3D Blu-ray player in a product launch that was heavily 3D orientated.

Ian Beushaw, head of digital media at video services provider ITFC told TechRadar:

"Recording onto Blu-ray will not significantly enhance the format's desirability, as it will be restricted to computer-mounted recorders for creating home videos. With ever increasing capacity, the set-top high definition recorder of choice will, for the foreseeable future, be HDD based.

"3D will have limited appeal and it will be difficult to persuade viewers to dispose of and replace their relatively new Blu-ray player and flat panel TV to be able to enjoy the small number of features produced in 3D.

"Interactivity is the only potential area of growth I see, but again, it's difficult to predict what effects this will have."

The last physical format?

Bill Gates famously argued that HD-DVD and Blu-ray would be the last physical video format - a notion confirmed in part by several of the industry pundits we spoke to. Instead, they spoke of solid-state 'packaged media' and the increasing availability of video content by other means, including HD streaming and downloads within the next 5-10 years.

But perhaps the brightest hope for Blu-ray is the argument put forward by Ian Beushaw of ITFC:

"If I decide to buy a loved one the complete collection of Pedro Almodóvar films for their birthday, I do not want to email them a download link, I want to wrap it up in silver paper with a bow and present it to them on the day. Having said that, I think that the number of titles destined for physical media in the future will be limited to collectables and significant others with the remainder only available as downloads."


Liked this? Then check out The complete guide to 3D TV

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