Blu-ray player finally sells at $199

October 21, 2008

Had a quick exchange with Erik Gruenwedel yesterday on this topic which led to my quote in his piece on Home Media Magazine’s website, Best Buy Sells Blu-ray Player Below $200.

James McQuivey, principal analyst with Forrester Research, said he is surprised by the price cut since Blu-ray manufacturers he spoke with in 2007 said it was not economically advantageous to go below $299, much less $200. 

“That’s what happens when an economy goes south and people are staring at the prospect of leftover inventory,” McQuivey said. “Like any other market-driven panic, this one will lead to copycats. I don’t expect the $199 to be common, but every retailer will want at least one model at that level, if only to seduce people into that section of the store.” 

The quote is interesting just because it comes from some intense conversations I’ve had with the Blu-ray manufacturers who have tried to forestall a price freefall on standalone Blu-ray players. These conversations happened because my colleague JP Gownder wrote in September 2007 that the ideal average price point for consumer adoption of Blu-ray was a shocking $204. It’s no surprise people making these boxes didn’t like that.

But the moment a retailer like Best Buy crosses the $200 threshhold in fear of a tight economy, it does force everyone else’s hand. Except companies like Pioneer, of course, that are playing at the ultra high-end (although Google did find one Pioneer model at $299 online).

The thing we can’t really get into in an article like that is that the discounted players are always Profile 1.1 players, not Profile 2.0, which means they don’t support the Internet-derived interactivity called “BD-Live” that the industry is hoping will shape how people value disc-based media in the future. So by selling people these players at low prices today, we inadvertently inhibit later uptake of BD-Live-capable players.

So, with that in mind, will you run out and get one?

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