PC Vendors Slow To Offer Blu-ray Drives

DVD drives will be king in PCs for years to come, says the market research firm iSuppli.
Despite rising sales of Blu-ray disc players, drives that support the high-definition format are not expected to make a dent in the PC market over the next five years, a market research firm said.

By 2013, Blu-ray drives will be found in only 16.3% of PCs shipped, compared to 3.6% this year, iSuppli predicted Tuesday.

"BDs won't be replacing DVDs as the primary optical drive in PC systems through at least the year 2013," Michael Yang, senior analyst for storage and mobile memory at iSuppli, said in a statement. "They eventually will find success, but during the next five years, that success will be limited in the PC segment."

Blu-ray drives cost more than DVDs, and offer a slimmer selection fo movies. "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 said.

While Hollywood studios are shipping more Blu-ray movies, it'll take time for the number to reach levels significant enough to drive consumers to seek Blu-ray drives in PCs, iSuppli said.

A third, but less significant, factor in slow adoption of Blu-ray drives is the difficulty of supplanting DVD-RW drives as a storage medium in PCs. Blu-ray drive makers will have to demonstrate a distinct advantage in their products over the older rivals.

For example, the 3.5-inch floppy drive hung on until the CD-ROM became obviously better, as music, games, and movies moved to the CD-ROM.

"It's undeniable that Blu-ray delivers a higher-definition picture, better sound quality and larger storage space for home entertainment," Yang said. "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 costs come down and consumers become more aware of the Blu-ray advantage, the technology will continue to struggle in the PC market, iSuppli said.

In the first quarter of this year, unit sales of Blu-ray players soared 72% to 400,000 and the amount of money U.S. retailers reaped rose 14% from the same period a year ago to $107.2 million, according to The NPD Group. The biggest driver behind the increases was falling player prices and rising sales of HDTVs.

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