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ABI says consumers giving Blu-ray players the shifty eye

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In its latest report, ABI Research said that consumers were reluctant to commit to Blu-ray players, saying they just weren’t sure they could settle down right now. Over half of the 1000 survey respondents said they had “other priorities” than buying a Blu-ray player, of the 23% that said they were pretty likely to go Blu-ray, but needed more time, like maybe a year.

ABI Research principal analyst Steve Wilson says:

“Consumers were happy to embrace standard DVD when that format arrived because the improvement in quality over VHS videotapes was dramatic. Standard DVD didn’t require the purchase of a new TV either. In contrast, while half of the respondents to our survey rated Blu-ray’s quality as ‘much better’ than standard DVD, another 40% termed it only ‘somewhat better,’ and most are very satisfied with the performance of their current DVD players.”

Blu-ray players also aren’t cheap, and Wilson said he doesn’t expect top tier prices to drop below $300 this year. Though the report said that Sony’s Blu-ray-enabled PlayStation 3 is becoming a favorite gaming console and so there is a continued market for Blu-ray discs.

For a press release from ABI, hit the jump.

Blu-ray players are not flying off retailers’ shelves, at least not in the numbers the industry might hope for. A new consumer survey from ABI Research has revealed a widespread reluctance to commit to a Blu-ray player in the near future: over half of the 1000 respondents, citing “other priorities,” say they have no plans to purchase one; a further 23% are likely to buy, but not until sometime in 2009.

ABI Research principal analyst Steve Wilson says that much of the lukewarm response can be attributed to consumers’ perceptions about the value proposition that Blu-ray delivers. “Consumers were happy to embrace standard DVD when that format arrived because the improvement in quality over VHS videotapes was dramatic. Standard DVD didn’t require the purchase of a new TV either. In contrast, while half of the respondents to our survey rated Blu-ray’s quality as ‘much better’ than standard DVD, another 40% termed it only ‘somewhat better,’ and most are very satisfied with the performance of their current DVD players.”

High Blu-ray player prices and the need for an accompanying high-definition television were also leading barriers to wider adoption, the survey showed. “We expect that player prices will remain above $300 for Tier One models for the remainder of this year,” says Wilson. Look for disc bundling to become the buyers’ incentive.

There is a bright spot, however: Sony’s Blu-ray-enabled PlayStation 3 console is rapidly becoming a favorite for hard-core gamers and so the installed base of sockets for Blu-ray discs continues to climb. “While you might think gamers purchase fewer movie discs that others, we didn’t see any significant evidence of that in our results,” says Wilson. “PS3 console shipments will go a long way to help bring down manufacturing costs and drive down Blu-ray player prices.”

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