Can a Blu-ray/DVD hybrid disc save Blu-ray?

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Tokyo (Japan) – While Blu-ray player and disc sales apparently are climbing, movie executives repeatedly said that the Blu-ray has been a rather disappointing business so far. HD DVD may be dead, but movie streaming is developing into a serious rival for the Blu-ray disc and we hear that this Christmas is considered to be a make or break event for the technology. A new Blu-ray/DVD hybrid disc brings new hope that more Blu-ray media will be sold. Is it enough?

A Blu-ray/DVD hybrid has been protoyped by JVC before, but it seems that Infiniti Storage Media will be the first company to enable a mass production of titles on such discs. The discs consist of a dual-layer DVD structure and a single layer Blu-ray on top. The total capacity is 33.5 GB (25 GB + 8.5 GB). The disc follows the "Blu-ray Disc, Hybrid Format" specifications provided by the Blu-ray Disc Association.  

The concept of the disc is relatively simple – it uses layers of film that reflect the blue lasers and enable content to be read from the Blu-ray layer, while red lasers will go through the film to access the DVD area.

However, the format itself has never been the problem of Blu-ray. A much more interesting question is why consumers should choose such a hybrid disk over a regular Blu-ray disk (when they already have a Blu-ray player) or over a regular DVD (if they only have a DVD player, but want to future-proof their purchase)? For most consumers, the answer will come down to the price of hybrid content and common sense would suggest that such a hybrid disk cannot be produced for less money than either a DVD or a Blu-ray disk.

It seems that initial hybrid releases, which will only be available in Japan, will be very pricey. According to CDRInfo, the first hybrid package consisting of four discs will retail for about $406, while the 7-DVD version currently sells for about $266, which means that the hybrid package carries a 52% premium. This may be in the range of the premium consumers pay more Blu-ray discs over DVDs, but there is no doubt that the cost is rather high.   

And at least at this time, there seem to be more pessimistic than optimistic Blu-ray people out there: A new format war is already emerging – between Blu-ray and HD movie streaming.    

We haven’t seen the hybrid media yet, but we cannot see many reasons how the format could succeed. To us, it looks like a classic case of dead on arrival.

Hybrid entertainment formats have not exactly worked for the industry in the past. For example, Warner had an idea in early 2007 to promote a HD DVD/Blu-ray hybrid disc, but shelved the idea later in the year when it became clear that Blu-ray was gaining a lead.

What is your take? Would an available hybrid Blu-ray/DVD disc change your mind about Blu-ray? What value would you see in such a disc? Let us know by writing a comment below.