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Pricing and Blu-Ray

CNet is at it again. This time, Don Reisinger wants to say that cheap DVDs are keeping high def Blu-Ray discs from selling. Here, look, he says it, right here:

It sure looks like DVD pricing is holding Blu-ray back.

Don, you are insane, or you have selective perception of a particularly nasty kind. Let's try that sentence this way, shall we?

It sure looks like DVD Blu-Ray pricing is holding Blu-ray back.

Don's arguing that because DVDs are cheap (and going to get cheaper, not more expensive, as demand for high def content increases and low def content demand will decrease) Blu-Ray looks expensive. No. Blu-Ray looks expensive because it is. It's as expensive, if not more expensive, than DVD was when it was new.

The problem isn't that DVDs are cheap. When CDs came out, cassettes and LPs were cheap in comparison. When DVDs came out, VHS got really cheap. That didn't stop the DVD from becoming the world's fastest adopted media format ever.

The problem here is that while a Blu-Ray disc might cost five or even ten times as much as a DVD of the same content, it is not ten times better. Even if it was twice as good that would seemingly only justify twice the price. That's making the big assumption that there is an agreed-upon objective measure to be used (horizontal lines, total image pixels). Even if Blu-Ray did deliver ten times the number of total pixels that might not make it worth ten times as much to the consumer, and even if it was, that doesn't mean there is a market for it.

The bottom line here is that DVD is still too recent a technology; for most users it is still "good enough" for most purposes; the improvement in quality from DVD to Blu-Ray does not justify the increase in price compared to DVDs of the same content (or the cost of replacing existing DVDs) and in any case only appeals to people who have upgraded enough of their media pipeline to see all the improvements, meaning not just a Blu-Ray player, but also a high definition television, monitor or projector.