We'll Pass on 'The Battle at the Bottom' in Blu-ray

by admin 06/15/2009

It seems like all the fire and furor over the cost of Blu-Ray players is at a manageable  simmer.

Before several recent meetings with industry analysts in New York and Boston, Chris Fawcett, the VP of Sony’s Home Video business, and I were expecting some tough questions about the Blu-ray player market, especially after the announcement of a sub-$140 player from a mass market manufacturer. 

After all, we were talking about our new Blu-ray player with built-in wireless connectivity, which hits retail next month at $349. It’ll join our entry piece at $299 and our ES model ($2,000)

Naturally, we were asked if Sony might enter the lower price arena (sub-$150). But when Chris replied he didn’t see it happening at any point this year, the analysts weren’t fazed. 

In fact, most nodded in tacit agreement.

They know and understand the real manufacturing costs; they also know that there’s a broad delta between inexpensive chip sets and those that can deliver what consumers expect. They also know full HD video when they see it, and most of the blu-ray players on the lower end simply aren’t providing a compelling entertainment experience in their view.

One analyst even quipped, “If I needed a hearing aid, I wouldn’t want to bottom feed when it came to price.”

I heard that.

So count Sony out of the $150 (or lower) Blu-ray player market and so-called “The Battle at the Bottom” in 2009. 

We seem to be OK right where we are….at least in the minds of those that track our industry.


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  1. guest_user wrote: June 15, 2009 6:04pm

    Actually, I am glad to hear that.

  2. guest_user wrote: June 15, 2009 10:18pm

    I enjoyed the post!! Blu-Ray Disc Players are an important part of the current electronics market. I agree that Sony should not dip down that low. I think that people should shop for these products when they are in the market for a Blu-Ray Disc Player and get the highest quality and any sale that it is obtained at will be a bonus! Sony’s prices are fair for the high-quality value!

    To SCE (Sony Computer Entertainment): Nintendo is constantly evolving with their game consoles and brands like Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DSI and Super Mario. I hope that Sony is planning to pack a one-two punch with Sony only video game brands to go up against Nintendo’s towering inferno. I believe Sony can make it happen where they can have a brand with sustaining power!

    Another Reason To Love Sony!!

  3. Justin Ried wrote: June 16, 2009 2:07am

    I think that’s wise. Sony has a rich tradition of development that lends itself toward the high-end. For more than half a century, the company has consistently introduced new technologies to the marketplace.

    Innovation isn’t cheap.

    Leave the high volume, low margin commoditization process to others. Continue to focus on what Sony does best: Enabling people to experience the world and connect with each other in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

    Companies perform their best when they stay focused, true to purpose. Sony’s purpose is to create, and stay ahead of the curve.

  4. guest_user wrote: July 9, 2009 10:43am

    I couldn’t help noticing a slight insecurity in the tone of this blog article. And in my opinion, it is well founded.
    … Because 21st is the century when the global economy reaches the saturation point. In a nutshell, planet Earth has a limited surface with a finite number of people living on it, who have finite attention span for marketing, finite buying power to buy the stuff, and finite time to use it.
    Hence the battle for consumer dollar/yen/pound/rouble/uan moves ever closer to the source. It is all about capturing the consumer mindshare through robust value proposition upfront, establishing the brand relationship through continued support and benefits, and then monetizing that relationship in a manner that does not erode it.
    That is why I believe that the 21st century will be the age of the Free. As in, stuff your clients genuinely get for free (or gradually approaching free as time and competition progresses).

    This is not the blind push for the market share from the Internet boom and bust (the “new economy” without regard to costs and profits). It’s not the “buy one get one free” or “free gift” from the decades past. This is about genuine value delivered to the customer, Free.
    There’s always going to be market for bluray players with wood side panels and a chassis machined out of a solid block of aluminum. And I want to see those type products from SONY. But it’d be a shame if SONY became the PanAm of the electronics industry – the grande ol’ company that once was. “They don’t make ‘em anymore like SONY used to”, people would say.

    In my opinion, if you want to stay in the game through this century, you’ve got to be in the game early (kid’s toys) and you’ve got to be broad.
    Somehow you seem to have a fuzzy vision on how to protect your image as an aspiration brand yet sell a healthy volume of the product to the masses, and this fuzziness is hurting you.
    Plus there’s no sufficient company-wide interconnectedness. Your TVs and notebooks don’t have the slots for CF cards that your Alpha cameras use; when you buy a Vaio on SonyStyle you can order an Adobe pro video editor but not your own superb SONY Vegas Video. Your A900 camera never got a firmware update even though user forums (dyxum, dpreview) are full of requests for same and useful suggestions and feature requests. All these represent untapped opportunities and ultimately money left on the table for no good reason.
    – Alex K

  5. guest_user wrote: July 9, 2009 4:46pm

    Thanks for your feedback, Alex. You raise some good points. Sony is committed to developing more networked/integrated products for the near term. Case in point: We just announced that Netflix huge movie database and other cool content will be available to those who have a BRAVIA Internet Video-capable HDTV in the fall. In the blu-ray space, please stay tuned. Some interesting new products are on the way.


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