With last week’s death march for HD-DVD, many have been saying that Blu-Ray’s victory will be short lived. The reason for this is because several people seem to believe that digital movie downloads will kill physical media, including (but not limited to Blu-Ray). This clam, while extremely plausible in the next 5 years, is ludicrous from the "anytime soon" standpoint. Digital movie downloads are not endangering Blu-Ray for two simple reasons.
- The download size of high definition content is not attractive to the average consumer yet. A full 1080p (aka full HD) quality movie is around 5GB gigabytes (minimum) depending on length and audio of the motion picture. High definition quality is essential 2-3 times the quality of regular DVD quality videos, which are downloadable from iTunes, with an average size of 2 gigabytes (keeping in mind that 1.39GB is around 1.65GB of actual disk usage) and if you times that by 2, you will be looking at 4GB download sizes. With a good broadband connection you’re looking at probably half a day to download. That’s quite a bit of time when I can goto the store buy the disc and play it in a matter of an hour. I then also have a physical copy to store for later viewing without taking up space on a hard drive. Not to mention that if other cable companies follow Time Warner’s lead in broadband bandwidth caps (limits on the amount of data that can be downloaded monthly), downloading large movie files is not going to be attractive.
- The average consumer does not know how watch a digitally downloaded movie on their televisions. This is a point that most geeks miss, mainly because we know the how, why, and intricacies of making digital movies play on a television. The average person does not know how to do this. I think with the new version of Apple TV, we could see this change a little, but only in small percentages for a couple of years at least. Once companies have released boxes that can integrate into a home theater setup, then digital movie downloads might have a chance at ending Blu-Ray’s existence. The problem is, there are not many non-geek devices that can download, let alone play digitally downloaded movies. By "non-geek" I mean that the average person (your grandmother, for example) can use the device without having to call you with thirty questions.
These are just two of the main reasons that Blu-Ray has nothing to fear from digital downloads, at least for the next 5 years (my prediction). Other issues exist, for sure, but these are probably two of the biggest hurdles. Believe me, I think that the new version of Apple TV is a huge step in the right direction in overcoming these issues, at least in a small way. But Apple TV is still not perfect. There are also people out there (like me) who enjoy owning a physical copy of the movie or music disc. Digital copies are great, but if I lose the files, I would like to be able to get the digital file back, and having a physical disc helps with that.