Monday, April 30, 2007

Walmart and HD DVDs

The great The Digital Bits has a great comment on Walmart and HD DVDs. Check out their site, it's to me the best DVD site out there. Here's the Walmart part:

It's no surprise that Wal-Mart is investigating making available in their stores the cheapest players possible, whether they be HD-DVD or Blu-ray. Driving prices in their stories down as low as possible is what they do. But here's the problem with cheap Chinese HD-DVD players that a lot of people are glossing over. The kind of people who might buy a $199 HD-DVD player at Wal-Mart are not the kind of people who are likely to want to have to deal with software glitches, firmware updates and disc/player incompatibility problems. Right now, Toshiba and Universal can't yet tell me why the HD-DVDs of The Good Shepherd and Children of Men aren't working in Toshiba's top of the line player. If Toshiba is having issues with their BEST player, does anyone really think a $199 Fuh Yuan player won't have even MORE problems? Who's going to do tech support for Fuh Yuan? Wal-Mart? One would also expect the kind of people who want a $199 high-def player are also going to be the kind of folks who might also want Disney movies for their kids. That's not going to happen on HD-DVD. Not to mention, with cheap Chinese players available at $199, what other major hardware manufacturer is going to want to try to compete with that? There's no profit margin. LG and Samsung are making combo HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc players available because they rightly perceive that there's a market for such players with high-end enthusiasts. But those players are going to cost in excess of $1000. There's no incentive at all for companies like LG or Samsung to try and compete with the likes of Fuh Yuan on budget players at Wal-Mart. Meanwhile, the prospect of $199 HD-DVD players will force Sony, Pioneer, Samsung, Panasonic and the other major Blu-ray Disc player manufacturers to lower their prices faster (which, as Home Media editor T.K. Arnold pointed out in a recent editorial, may be an unexpected advantage of the HD format war). By the end of the year, a number of name-brand Blu-ray players will be available for $399 or less, with even cheaper models likely to follow in 2008. Cheaper players that WILL play those Disney high-def movies.