Digital downloads – like those for Apple TV – will be Blu-ray’s downfall

“With the fall of HD DVD, Blu-ray has assumed the throne as the next format of choice, but its reign will be short-lived,” Erica Ogg blogs for CNET.

“Blu-ray won’t enjoy the same decade-long dominance DVD did after it succeeded VHS. But that’s not because there will be other challenger physical disc formats. Rather, instead of buying discs from Amazon, Best Buy or Wal-Mart, people will begin getting their entertainment in the form of digital downloads in larger volumes,” Ogg reports.

“To the chagrin of disc patent holders, discs are not the only way to consumer high-definition media now… Apple recently upgraded Apple TV to include rentals–standard definition and HD–and a way to bypass the need for a PC to watch films on a living room TV,” Ogg reports.

“The biggest roadblock is of course bandwidth, which causes the process to be long and painful and ultimately not worth it for many. But that will change. Consider, for example, this scenario,” Ogg reports. “Using Fios from Verizon, it’s possible to currently download several episodes of a TV show at approximately 5 megabits per second, or 625 kilobytes per second.”

“Assuming a one-hour high-definition TV show (with commercials) is around 5GB, that requires 1,388,888 kilobytes per second or 1.38 megabytes per second to watch,” Ogg reports. “So Fios is about halfway there about at best, and Comcast’s 100 megabit per second connection, which it promised at CES would be a reality by 2009, could pull it off.”

More in the full article here.

95 Comments

  1. Tom Strong … your name obviously refers to your back, not your brain. Lay off the steroids and the radical religious right services and try something enlightening. As sexist as you are, you and Pat Buchanon(sp?), you may never conclude that most women are pretty close to “as good as” most men in most things … falling short in such essentials as lifting engine blocks with their teeth or writing their name in yellow in the snow … but you might learn to shut your mouth when your true nature starts to show.

  2. A LOT of people are going to want to hang on to a tangible object. Blu-Ray will still be here and going strong 10 years from now. It’s going to take a whole new generation of computer users (mainly under 30) to see download sales surpass physical sales.

  3. Anybody who thinks downloads look better than Blu-Ray doesn’t have their HDTV set up right. No way a 5GB download is going to look better than a 50GB disc. Downloads might replace discs some time in the future, but definitely not soon.

  4. Every tech generation is different. The VCR revolution was different than the DVD revolution that followed. LP records had different repercussions than cassette tapes that followed, and they were different than CDs. So, the story of Blu-Ray will be different than what came before.

    However, most of the importance of Blu-Ray will be for storage. OK, we have faster delivery of big media files than ever before. But that means at least SOME of those file will be kept. Not all those movies zipping around the web will be rented. Where will they be kept? On hard drives. But hard drives break, and that breakage means the loss of greater and greater amounts of data. One could lose one’s entire video collection.

    There’s a need to store data in a manner not prone to mechanical breakdowns. Tape is too slow and too unreliable. Blu-Ray is IT right now, it just has to arrive at the right capacity (at LEAST 30GB per disc, though more will always be desirable), with the right backup software (Time Machine seems like a good start) and of course at the right price (which seems inevitable).

  5. @ carson chang & Rob… You couldn’t be more right.

    While the government and cable industries are busy paying each other off, it’ll be YEARS before there’s sufficient bandwidth speed and coverage, to retire physical disks. The cable company monopolies were created to limit choice and maximize profit. The US and local governments… inflicted with rampant and limitless calcification, inertia, stasis, petty squabbling and greed… they were more than happy, or completely clueless, watched it and enabled it to happen.

    Places like Korea, much of Europe, Japan are physically small with centralized village culture, so wiring the entire country up for fibre is not such a daunting task. Unfortunately, the United States has massive landmass and scattered population, with single-family homes widely spaced… except for perhaps the Northeast.

    Plus, the wired infrastructure (the entire infrastructure) of the US is a mess. Renovation and restoration are far more costly than starting from scratch. That’s why some of these supposed third-world countries are so far ahead technologically: they never built 19th century robber baron inspired infrastructures. They jumped from horse carts and head baskets straight to late 20th century technology.

    We’re choking on our own success.

  6. If you mean by “downfall” a disastrous failure (like HD DVD) then Erica is wrong. (hey, words like “downfall” gets clicks)

    Blue-ray will sell tons of players and discs . . . & make a nice profit.
    But like newspapers, radio, and network TV (ABC, NBC, CBS) they will have to live with a bigger pie that has smaller slices.

  7. People like to collect things: coins, stamps, CDs, videos, ex-girlfriends, cars, you name it. Downloads won’t kill that any time soon.

    Besides, Blu-ray just plain looks better!

    People are replacing their old analogue TVs with HDTV. The price and SIZE of Full-HDTV has dropped quite a bit, just in the past year!

    The model that replaced the 40″ HDTV I bought last year, is almost $1000 cheaper, with better specs!

    You can get a 32″ Full-HD set for about $900. More and more 23″- 27″ computer monitors are Full-HD and come with HDMI ports in addition to standard DVI/VGA ports… for around $400 and up (if you look around). AND they’re double-duty.

    Once people start seeing what these new monitors can do, they’ll want better source material.

    Watch something like a football or hockey game in HD, then watch the same thing in standard def. After a while you will seek out HD content. Pretty soon you’ll demand it.

    Upsampled DVDs can look pretty good (like anything from Criterion Collection), depending on who did the mastering. A Blu-ray player that also upsamples DVDs, will start to look pretty attractive.

  8. I have $329 in Christmas Best Buy gift certificates that I am desperate to spend on an AppleTV, but Best Buy does not have any AppleTV units and are not scheduled to get anymore until March or April! What is going on with that?! Come on Apple get with it!!!!

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