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Lorin Thwaits A geek says what?

With all the hype about the high definition disc war, many people are inclined to believe that these two formats are both brand-new on the market and both sides are scrambling to try to get their product ready for release.  Not completely true.  There's an important factor that has not been brought up in the media.  Sony has already been selling Blu-Ray technology in their professional camcorders for over a year!  Only 8000 are in the field now, but they've gotten very positive feedback from that discerning crowd.  It's not called Blu-Ray in that product line, but rathar they call it their Professional Disc format.  Still at the core it's the same single-layer 25 gig disc that's being sold to consumers as Blu-Ray.  Of course no AACS which has been the thing that's held up the consumer units.

When you know this then comparing HD-DVD to Blu-Ray becomes even more like VHS vs Beta from the past.  Beta was out way before VHS, and had a much better design, proven at first by professionals.  In fact many professionals still use the format.  So same story with the discs.  HD-DVD is rushing to get everything working right so they can be a part of this war, coming in with a cheaper product, just like VHS did in the past.  Unfortunately even though HD-DVD is the lesser of the two products, it still may end up winning based on price alone if Sony doesn't change their marketing strategy.

Another interesting comparison to Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD that can be drawn is with the two early competitors in the hybrid automobile market -- Toyota and Honda.  The Honda technology was inferior to Toyota's Hybrid Drive which had already been sold in Japan for awhile, and still they rushed the development of the Insight to be the first on the American market.  They only had limited manufacturing capacity, so selling the car was almost like having a large-scale public beta test of the technology.  They spared no opportunity to mention being first on American turf, just like Toshiba is now touting their spot as being first with their player.  Honda didn't sell many of their Insights in Japan.  I don't think I've even seen one on the roads over there.  It was a product designed specifically to get buzz going in America.  Toshiba is doing the same thing now with their two new players, which are really the same basic design at the core.

Back to cars, and Toyota's excellent strategy.  A year later when Toyota started selling the more refined Prius in America they had strong sales.  They priced it so low that they lost money on the entire first generation of the product.  But they got established and now the second generation Prius is profitable for them, as well as the Highlander, Lexus RX-400h, etc.  Now they can just sit back and capitalize on the foolishness of American automakers as everyone is now looking for more efficient cars.  If Sony is smart then they'll do the same thing with Blu-Ray: sell the first generation at a loss and become firmly established.  They're coming in 6 months later in this high def war much like Toyota came later to the American market.  No doubt they'll have huge fanfare and strong PS3 sales, but to win they've got to price their first units to the point that they'll take a loss in order to get firmly established.


Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 10:17 PM Video , Automotive | Back to top

Comments on this post: Blu-Ray is only new to consumers. Professionals have been using it for over a year!

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