On the surface of it, I’m a natural candidate to upgrade to one of the latest HD DVD formats: I have an extensive and ever-growing DVD collection, and I have a pretty decent HD TV and sound system.
So it would be logical for me to take the next step — upgrade to either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. But I’m just not going to do it, not yet, and maybe not ever.
I’m also guessing that I’m not alone. Here’s why:
- Market fatigue. In the past half-dozen years, the market has been flooded with version after version of the same films. The original release; the director’s cut; the two-disc version of the director’s cut with extra extras; the version that’s part of the director’s (or actor’s) box set; the super secret special edition of the director’s cut that includes a commemorative tchokte, etc.
On the fact of it, this is not so different from the zillion different versions of Who’s next that I’ve purchased over the years, except that 1) those were released over a period of 30 years, not 30 months, and 2) I don’t love any single movie enough the way I love that album to purchase every last version.
- HD DVDs are an upgrade, not a disruptive technology. Unlike Videos, CDs, and even DVDs, I think that consumers consider HD an upgrade to an existing technology as opposed to an absolute brand-new delivery system. That it is superior is beside the point: the question is whether or not consumers will think that it is absolutely necessary. Going back to the first point: do I need to upgrade my 3-Disc versions of Lord of the Rings so that I can watch them maybe a couple more times — ever — in a superior version? And pay more money to do so?
Upgrades are always priced higher: remember the Mobile Fidelity Sould Labs versions of vinyl albums or the Gold Disc versions of CDs? Of course, both CDs and Videos were priced extremely high in the beginning (for different reasons), and CD prices remain forever too high, but DVDs have always been seen as quite affordable, especially when they drop down into the Long Tail.
But to pick a totally random example, both the HD DVD and Blu-Ray versions of Good Night and Good Luck on Amazon significantly more expensive than the regular version.
Multiply that out by dozens and hundreds of DVDs and you get a reluctant consumer. Especially if that consumer already owns hundreds of DVDs.
- I won’t get fooled again. And finally, what if I pick the wrong format? Consumers have learned the lessons of VHS and Beta. It’s entirely possible that I could take the plunge, one way or the other, only to find the entire format unsupported by the end of the decade. And as a matter of fact, it’s entirely possible that the entire concept of watching films on DVD could be obselete by the middle of the 2010s, so why bother with an upgrade? In the meantime, we just bought one of those upconverting DVD players, and I’ll just wait for my perfect HD on-demand world, thank you very much.