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Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Cheap Blu-Ray Players to Hit U.S. Shelves

According to the latest industry information, cheap Blu-Ray players are expected to hit the margin $99 barrier somewhere next year...

The average selling price of Blu-ray players has been falling steadily -- it's now about $200 -- and there's little doubt that prices will keep dropping as Blu-ray goes mainstream and player shipments increase. But one report says the average price for entry-level Blu-ray players may to drop to as little as $99 in the very near future.

According to a report, Chinese manufacturers are preparing to enter the market for the high-definition video players, and this development could mean very aggressive prices for low-end Blu-ray hardware. The Blu-ray Disc Association recently began licensing Blu-ray technology in China, a move that has led Samsung marketing director Mark Leathan to speculate that $99 players aren't far off, the report states.

Does this mean we'll see a wide selection of sub-$100 Blu-ray players this holiday shopping season? That sounded a big optimistic, so we sought the advice of NPD Group industry analyst Stephen Baker, who's also skeptical at this point.

"Black Friday, maybe. It's entirely possible you could see a few players down at that price level," says Baker, who adds that it's a little early to speculate about holiday prices. The industry will have a better idea of holiday pricing by mid-summer.

Another issue is just how stripped down those entry-level Blu-ray players might be. Sure, they'll play discs, but what about the latest bells and whistles? Will they have BD-Live, also known as Blu-ray Disc Profile 2.0, which supports Ethernet connectivity, storage, and interactive features? Will they offer high-end audio decoders or Internet streaming via content providers such as Netflix, CinemaNow, Pandora, and YouTube to your HDTV?

It's unlikely that established players such as Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony will sell sub-$100 Blu-ray players, but rather they'll leave the low end to the Chinese upstarts and other value-sector brands like Magnavox and Sylvania, the report says.

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