Blu-ray dead in 5 years

September 5, 2008

Really? No freaking kidding...

I'm not sure why this is such a shock to anyone in any technology based industry, but for some reason I keep seeing sites posting about the comments from Samsung on where they think Blu-ray will be a defunct technology in 5 years, like this is some kind of earth-shattering announcement. As far as I'm concerned, saying "5 years" is a gift and over estimating it's actual shelf-life.

CDs, killed records & tapes, MP3s killed CDs. VHS killed Beta-max, DVDs killed VHS, Blu-ray killed DVDs (as well as HD-DVDs) and each of these conquering technologies killed their predeceors in a quicker time frame. What right did Blu-ray earn to be king of the hill for any length of time at all? Blu-ray is just a stop over in the technological gap before we can almost instantaneously download any type of multimedia content to our PCs or more likely our 72 inch OLED TVs via the Internet. All it takes is one of three things to happen.

1) An "MP3" like format for HD video content is developed, which allows existing Internet technology (fancy series of pipes for the less-technology inclined) to handle delivering the new herald of HD digital medium to our living rooms.

2) The way in which the Internet is delivered to our homes is changed in a manner that allows for higher bandwidth consumption at either metered or un-metered rates so that as our need for bandwidth increases per household, ISPs can deliver. Already there are some ISPs that are offering extreme bandwith to paying customers, it costs a lot today, but how long before that standard becomes the measuring stick by which most people have for their upload/download speeds? I remember not so long ago when 4800 baud was a heck of a connection to have to the fledgling Internet.

3) The third and most likely happening, is really just a combination of 1 & 2, where both new methods of compression for HD content as well as increasing speeds for home Internet access usher in an era where set-top boxes can provide HD content delivered in a matter of moments at the whim of the user. Who in their right-mind is going to pay over $300 for a Blu-ray player or the expensive discs at $30 a pop?

The other catalyst is storage space. As drives get larger and larger, and cheaper and cheaper, the "Tivo" 5 years from now will probably come with at least a 1TB drive in it for storing HD content downloaded directly from the net. Besides TV and movie content, why not video games. The Xbox Live platform already offers HD downloadable content (games, TV, & Movies) that are delivered via the Internet to your Xbox and stored on the hard drive. For a measely 120gb you can store quite a bit on your Xbox, 5 years from now an appropriate device would easily have 5x that amount. Really all that leaves is the delivery hurdle.

Storage is already cheap and getting cheaper by the month in almost every format available. We just sit waiting for the next major way to compress HD content for easy Internet delivery and/or the ISPs to increase delivery speeds to the home user at affordable prices.

Where is the real downside to this equation? The Internet itself is pretty much a horrible delivery medium at the moment. It has gotten much better in the last 2-3 years, but still has some major pitfalls to overcome. First of all, it really needs some major restructuring and an easy way to get rid of all the junk. The amount of Internet traffic that is currently wasted on spam and other crap needs to go for it to be a successful delivery medium. 

Update: This stuff is already in motion, just look at what Tivo has.


Orbital said...

An update: Sony has recently fired back, citing that since paper hasn't disappeared as a medium, neither will Blu-Ray. Yeah, right...