100 GB Blu-ray and other fantasies

Sharp's new 100 GB triple-layer Blu-ray player is a notable technical achievement - and it is reasonably priced. Only one question: who cares?
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

100 GB triple-layer Blu-ray is a notable technical achievement. Only one question: who cares?

Sharp's announcement of new 100 GB Blu-ray players and recorders shows there's life in the Blu-ray market. Or that vendors are gluttons for punishment.

The new player, due in Japan at the end of this month, is reasonably priced at $58. Recorders not so much: starting at $2300.

The 100 GB 3-layer format is a BDXL standard, so other vendors will announce new players soon.

Who? Sharp expects that consumers will buy TV series on BDXL: up to 11 shows on a single disk with no degradation in quality. That's an advantage over the 5 or so you can get today on Blu-ray. Or the 3 or so on lower quality DVD.

Maybe 3D will drive adoption - if and when 3D proves it has a popular market. If it comes, BDXL will be ready.

Blu-ray adoption Blu-ray is popular on big-budget, effects-laden Hollywood movies like Iron Man or Dark Knight. But not so much on smaller character-driven flicks.

I saw this up close when my local video store liquidated. DVDs at $1.00 were flying out the door, but Blu-ray dramas at $2.50 weren't. All the Blu-ray blockbusters were snapped up at $10 while the rest languished.

People have the Blu-ray players, but not the desire to buy most movies in the format. They must not see the value.


The Storage Bits take Normally more storage capacity is a Good Thing. But as the history of floppies, Zip and Orb removable magnetic media shows, it isn't enough to salvage a lost market.

BDXL's 2x increase over 50 GB Blu-ray doesn't change the underlying dynamic: people aren't willing to pay much more for Blu-ray.

Blu-ray's value to the media industry is that will allow them to keep selling physical copies and check the power of the download providers like Netflix and the iTunes store.

There will always be collectors like me who want physical media. But we're a shrinking percentage of the market.

If Hollywood wants to keep selling disks - and with the rapid demise of rental shops they should want that very much - they have to give up their Blu-ray profit fantasies. The goal is not higher profits: the goal is to keep the physical media business alive.

Comments welcome, of course.

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