Technology seems to be advancing at an exponential rate, and blu-rays look set to take over from the dvd over the next few years. I think we can all agree that VHS died a death a few years ago (despite a recent VHS & blu-ray combo player recently hitting the shelves!)
VHS were released in the early 1970’s, using a similar format to audio cassette tapes for video and after winning the battle with sony’s Betamax, they were very much a household product right up until 1998, when the DVD was released. The DVD was based on the audio compact disc, which hit the market back in 1982. These CD’s had slowly made the cassette tape obsolete over the past 15 years, and now DVD’s were aiming to do the same to the VHS.
VHS did have its competition before the DVD, including VCD’s and laser discs; however the DVD’s far superior specs made them the obvious choice for those that could afford them. Many continued to purchase the now cheap VHS tapes, until about 2004 – at which point the DVD’s ‘affordability’ had settled down and become a feasible cost-effective option for the whole market.
We have seen CD’s fight off competition from Sony’s mini disc format, and then take a large hit from the introduction of the mp3 format. Still, CD’s look like they are around to stay. This is largely part to the large community of people who like to own physical, ‘tangible’ goods instead of just digital data, be it for simplicity or aesthetic reasons. Also, the ability to actually give a cd to a friend or customer makes them a much better choice for gifts and marketing. After all people still give birthday cards as gifts not just texts and emails!
… So what does all this mean for DVD duplication? Has it met its match with the Blu-ray duplication? Well, just like the explosion of mp3’s there are plenty of video formats that have given rise to purchasing and streaming videos online. Although DVD’s have taken a hit from this, there will always be reasons why people prefer the production of physical goods. Blu-rays are undeniably superior to DVD’s, with one disc being able to hold up to 25 times more data. The extra HD (high definition) quality, 3-D capabilities and improved interactive possibilities means blu-rays are definitely here to stay, and they have already caused DVD prices to drop significantly. The next more recent step has been seeing the actual prices of bluray players and bluray discs come down significantly – making them more acceptable as they become more mainstream. However, there is one major difference between this fight compared to prior media format battles. Blu-ray players are ‘backwards compatible’, meaning they can play not only Blu-Rays but DVD’s and inmost cases audio CDs too. For this reason many consumers will not simple discard pre-owned DVD’s to make way for Blu-ray replacements. So unless something was shot in HD, you can not exactly advertise that the blu-ray version is better in terms of quality?
So for my 2 cents… My prediction is that over the next 10 years Blu-rays will take over the home entrainment market, and movies will no longer be released on DVD, by which time blu-ray will likely be facing its own new competitor. However, the DVD will remain, as a useable cheap disc format, until discs themselves become obsolete – which will come more from a continued growth in online data storage and streaming in the non-physical online database often being termed the ‘cloud’.