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According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), 40 million US households (36 percent) were on track to have HDTV sets by the end of 2008, for a total installed based of 525 million sets Less than half of the sets were set up to receive HDTV programming HDTV penetration at the end of 2008 was around 35 percent in the UK, 30 percent in Japan, 18 percent in Germany, and 21 percent in France
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The variables in predicting the path of Blu-ray are extremely complex, but this has not deterred many people from conjectures ranging from sensible to outrageous Looking back on how DVD forecasts fared in the face of actual events, it seems that some prognosticators do a reasonable job with ballpark numbers while others should consider becoming weather forecasters At least they would increase their accuracy to 50 percent In 2008, every analyst s favorite setting on the prognostication machine was 2012, four years out Adams Media Research predicted that by 2012 there would be 100 million Blu-ray players, including 30 million PS3s, worldwide The Entertainment Merchant Association predicted 115 million Strategy Analytics predicted 132 million representing 55 percent household penetration in Japan, 32 percent in Europe, and 44 percent in the US These were all impressive numbers yet, at the same time, reports appeared about how Blu-ray sales were stumbling and Blu-ray would soon be eclipsed by digital delivery and video on demand Despite the nattering of naysayers, Blu-ray is guaranteed to succeed It will be around for decades, especially given its heritage from CD and DVD Consider the thinking that prevailed in the 1980 s and 1990 s about technology lifecycles At the time, almost every new generation of reproduction technology had to displace preceding technologies, requiring a complete changeover of devices and media This was especially true of analog technologies, but it also applied to digital Witness portable data storage transitions from 8-inch floppy disks to 5-inch floppies to 35-inch diskettes and then to USB drives Or, video formats from 70 mm film to 35 mm to 16 mm to 8 mm to super 8, along with U-matic tape, VHS, laserdisc, VHS-C, 8 mm videotape, Hi8, Digital 8, Mini DV, and so on, not to mention the litany of professional tape formats Or, portable music format transitions from 33-, 45-, and 78-rpm vinyl records and reel-to-reel tape to cassette tape, 8-track tape, CD, DAT, DCC, MiniDisc, and eventually MP3 files on portable players Since conversion between formats was difficult, and formats tended to last ten to twenty years, it was not surprising that CD was expected to peter out after twenty years But on its 25th birthday, in 2008, CD was far from obsolete The overlooked difference was that succeeding formats were backwards compatible with CDs DVD players and DVD-ROM drives, as well as, BD players and BD-ROM drives, all read CDs The effect carries forward as well The ability of BD players and drives to read tens of billions of CDs and DVDs makes them significantly more compelling and valuable than socalled disruptive but incompatible technologies The question is not whether Blu-ray will succeed, it is how successful will Blu-ray be In other words, how compelling is the format that comes after DVD DVD is a tough act to follow because it was such a vast improvement over VHS tape DVD heralded the switch from analog to digital video, added multichannel audio, quick access to programs with chapters, menus and interactivity, multiple audio tracks and subtitles, and much more Blu-ray offers
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essentially the same thing Blu-ray picture quality is better, but DVDs already look pretty good on HDTV sets Interactivity is significantly improved, but consumers are not exactly rioting in the streets demanding more interactive titles The promise of fresh new content delivered to Internet-connected players is probably the most interesting new feature Is it enough to get consumers to make the switch to new players and, more importantly, start changing their collections over to HD format It depends, in part, on the draw of HDTV Anyone who has paid a lot of money for a high-definition display will want high quality, highdefinition content to feel like they are getting their money s worth Some people expect that Blu-ray will be adopted even faster than DVD, which is actually the case if PS3s are counted However, the format war clearly delayed adoption and allowed consumers to gravitate toward alternative sources, such as, pay-per-view, video on demand, and the Internet The outlook is brighter on the computer side, where demand for increased storage never abates Major computer manufacturers such as Apple, Dell, and HP support the Blu-ray format Notebook computers, now selling more than desktop models, are getting smaller and less likely to have an internal disc drive, but it is still inevitable that prices of BD drives will drop to the point that they replace DVD drives, which largely replaced CD drives after 2005
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