Tomorrow at 8 am, Wal-Mart is offering a "secret sale" of a Toshiba HD A2 HD-DVD player for a rock-bottom price of $98.87 (and $15 HD movies…) Best Buy fought back and dropped the price of its identical Toshiba player to $99.00. I hear it sold out online nationwide within five hours. As one tipster told me, "Cheap prices like this will crown the champ." But Hollywood studios think they will anoint the king with their content.
Anyone who bought a Blu-ray or HD-DVD player for $700-800 just a few months ago can’t be feeling good about this precipitous price decline in HD players (for the record, best price on Sony’s Blu-ray player is still around $475). It’s not surprising, in recent years we have seen the downslope of consumer product pricing get steeper as manufacturers, with the notable exception of Apple, realize that pricing strategy is as simple as get it cheap fast.
Sony wants to believe that high-end home theatre buffs will pay the premium for Blu-ray but I disagree. These players were $1k last year and half that today, and around Christmas we’ll see Sony take off another $150. No thanks, I’ll wait and continue to enjoy my 1080i upconverting DVD player… or I’ll go out and buy the twice discounted PS3 just for the Blu-ray player built into that console.
BTW, in either scenario you are going to have to shell out $75 for an HDMI cable to make it really sing… something home theatre buffs have also gotten wise to and factor into their purchasing decisions.
The other aspect of this that is revealing is that Hollywood studios have lulled themselves into a sense of comfort about their ability to crown the winner in the battle between Sony and Toshiba, but in the end it may well be WalMart that has the final say.