New Sony Blu-ray players aimed at low price point

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Sony is focusing on more user-friendly price points to promote its two new Blu-ray Disc players. The new models, showcased at a Sony event today, are aimed at current DVD and HDTV users who have previously been priced out of the market.

Sony technology communications manager Paul Colley explained that the new Blu-ray strategy is heavily influenced by history, with the Sony looking to replicate the whirlwind take-up of DVD. Colley noted that DVD players didn’t explode in popularity until the players were able to reach a price point more agreeable with everyday consumers.

This was back in December 2001, when the price point for DVD players came down to around the $400 mark. In was at this time that DVD players finally overcame various competing formats to become the number one choice for movie playback in Australia. Sony hasn’t been able to get its prices that low, but they have come close.

The new BDP-S350, which will be available in October 2008, is RRP $449. Also launched today was the BDP-S550, which is RRP $649. This latter model will be available in November.

The key feature of these models that Colley highlighted was BD Live. This enables users to retrieve bonus content though access to a Java-based portal. This could include cast and crew interviews, quizzes and games and, moving forward, real time interaction.

“I see BD Live as a bit like a blank canvas at the moment, and just now looking to take advantage of that blank canvas,” said Colley.

To support retailers in moving Blu-ray Disc players this Christmas season, Sony will be launching a major television commercial campaign to support this release. Although Sony media representatives were unable to discuss specifics, it was revealed that these commercials will feature some well-known Australians and will air exclusively on Channel Ten.

One stumbling block in the take-up of Blu-ray Disc technology could be the price of the Blu-ray discs themselves. When DVD first became popular, the price point for movies was around the $30 mark – similar to a compact disc. This was a price point that customers were used to and had accepted for this industry. New release Blu-ray movies are priced at the $50 point, or just below. This represents a 66% jump in the asking price. Sony will be hoping that the advances in technology really are good enough to justify this increased expenditure.

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