Analyst: Blu-ray may never replace DVD in PCs

Even though Blu-ray player sales are on a rapid climb, and Sony's new PS3 Slim and cheaper PlayStation 3 are expected to cause an explosion in Blu-ray penetration, market research company iSuppli says the drives haven't even begun to break the PC market.

According to the firm's tallies of the global PC market, only 3.6% of all computers shipped this year were equipped with Blu-ray drives, and the growth rate will remain low.

"BDs won't be replacing DVDs as the primary optical drive in PC systems through at least the year 2013," said Michael Yang, iSuppli's Senior Analyst for storage and mobile memory. "They eventually will find success, but during the next five years, that success will be limited in the PC segment. 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, and while this is changing, and studios are rolling out more Blu-ray content every week, there remains a long way to go."

By 2013, iSuppli predicts that BD drives will still only be installed in 16.3% of all PCs, at best.

ISuppli cites the succession of removable disc storage in PCs for the last 20 years. The 3.5" floppy was eventually replaced by the CD-ROM because of the dramatic increase in storage, and the precipitously low price of distributing software on that format (remember the stacks of floppies you used to use when installing, say, Microsoft Office?). An operating system or large suite of programs which would take up numerous floppies (Windows NT 3.1, for example, took up 22 diskettes) could be put on a single CD-ROM.

Lower production costs were the principal driver for CD-ROM (CD-R, CD-RW) to be replaced by DVD (DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW). But now, as most software can still be contained in DVDs or as download packages, production costs have yet to be measured lower for the higher-capacity Blu-ray formats, and broadband has made Internet distribution not only cheaper but more expedient, there's little motivation for anyone except for interactive movies and games to make the move.

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