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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Blu-ray May Never Replace DVD in PCs


Despite a rapid rise in the sales of consumer Blu-ray players, a fall in their prices and an increase in the number of high-definition movie titles, Blu-ray Drives (BDs) in PC systems have been left singing the blues, according to iSuppli Corp.

According to the firm's latest estimations, by 2013, BDs will be found in only 16.3 percent of PCs shipped, up from 3.6 percent in 2009.

"BDs won?t be replacing DVDs as the primary optical drive in PC systems through at least the year 2013," said Michael Yang, senior analyst for storage and mobile memory at iSuppli. "They eventually will find success, but during the next five years, that success will be limited in the PC segment. According to Yang, the two main reasons hampering the adoption of Blu-ray drives in PCs include costs as well as the lack of a library of movies that justifies the need for consumers to move to a different drive in their PCs."

Cost, Yang said, is the primary impediment. Given the high price of the product, consumers are unwilling to pay the extra money in order to obtain a high-definition drive. "The cost issue is amplified by the fact that the library of content is so small that there really isn?t a reason for users to switch at the moment," Yang added. And while this is changing and studios are rolling out more Blu-ray content every week, there remains a long way to go. P>

A tertiary factor worth mentioning is the difficulty of supplanting an incumbent storage medium in PCs?a distinction currently held by the DVD-RW drive.

From a historical perspective, each of the successful storage media in PCs has gained popularity only when content became available and when consumers actually understood that what they were getting was easy to use and worth the cost.

For instance, the once-ubiquitous 3.5-inch floppy drive had a lifespan of 15-plus years, surviving well past its prime. Eventually, it was replaced by CD-ROMs?which, in turn, gave way to DVD drives. A changeover occurred and the floppy disk finally supplanted when it became apparent that CD-ROMs not only offered a distinct advantage but were also the medium being adopted by everything from music to games to movies.

Such a pivotal moment, Yang said, has not yet arrived for the Blu-ray drive. "It?s undeniable that Blu-ray delivers a higher-definition picture, better sound quality and larger storage space for home entertainment," he remarked. "However, these benefits may have little or no value when viewing the content on a smaller desktop or laptop PC screen and using poor speakers."

Until BD costs decline and user knowledge increases, the technology will continue to struggle, iSupply concludes.

The Blu-ray format is facing the compatition of the NAND flash memory solutions currently available on the market at a reasonable cost. The main differences of the flash memory drives compared to the BD discs is their small dimensions, their shock resistance and their capacity. But these features give the flash memory a different roll and application. From the aspect of high capacity, media distribution and archive use, the Blu-ray optical media still has the advantage.


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