Retailers, consumers and prices
from Raw Japan:
Some of my friends have bought Blu-ray disc players recently and brag about the breath-taking picture quality on their big flat TVs. Sales of Blu-ray recorders have outstripped those of regular DVD recorders by almost seven to three in recent months in Japan, research firm GfK Marketing Services Japan says.
But some Blu-ray users complain that movie rental stores don't have much of a selection in the format. Tsutaya, Japan's largest movie rental chain and a unit of Culture Convenience Club, says some of its stores carry as many as 300 Blu-ray titles, but that's barely a fraction of the average 40,000 DVD titles available.
But even for new releases, rental stores are unlikely to keep their Blu-ray movie collections abreast of their DVD line-ups anytime soon because of the gap in the number of titles produced for each format. There were 494 DVD movies released for rental in Japan in June, the Japan Video Software Association said. The association doesn't collect data for Blu-ray rental movies, but an official said only 10-20 percent of the 168 new Blu-ray releases that month were thought to be available for rental.
Blockbuster got into the set-top box game right in time for the holiday season with a new digital media player that brings fewer but newer titles from the Web to TV six months after arch rival Netflix launched its $99 Roku set-top box. Netflix followed that launch with similar partnerships with Tivo, Samsung, LG Electronics and Microsoft.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. While the number of people who watch movies or TV via the Web is still small, media and technology executives believe a host of new technologies will make Web to TV a mainstream staple. Vudu already sells a $299 set-top box that lets users download TV shows, while Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PS3 game consoles can also be used to download programming from the Web for TV viewing.