$49 Blu-ray players coming on Black Friday?

There’s something quaint about the idea of Black Friday deals in the year 2009, but they can still mean some bargains for tech lovers. If rumors and leaks are to be believed, this year’s discount decision will be largely based around pushing Blu-ray into more homes.

For those outside the US who aren’t familiar with the term, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in late November. As it’s effectively the first day in the run-up to Christmas, and comes on a day when many employees are off work, it’s usually the cue for short-lived discounts by stores wanting to tempt people into starting their gift buying.

There’s also a more tenuous “event” that’s developed in recent years, Cyber Monday. That’s when online stores introduce similar discounts three days later. This seems to have developed in the era when most people had dial-up or no internet access at home, but broadband at their work computer, so would mark the dreary return to work by stealing a little shopping time.

This year’s deals have got off to an early start with BestBuy already offering a Blu-ray player, complete with built-in streaming of Netflix titles for subscribers, for $99.99. It’s an Insignia model, which is BestBuy’s own brand, though its not yet clear exactly who is making the machines. (The Insignia brand is applied to products from a range of manufacturers.)

However, analysts from the NPD group say the $99 price should be fairly common among this year’s Black Friday deals, including on some more high-profile brands. They also say that a $49 price is “conceivable” for some models.

The $49 price could bring a significant change to the speed at which Blu-ray is adopted. Now that machines are widely available at under $200, and taking into account the backwards compatibility with DVD, many people will opt for Blu-ray when they replace existing machines. However, that’s still not ideal for manufacturers because DVD players don’t need to be replaced that often. And despite the benefits, a lot of people are finding replacing a working player with Blu-ray an unattractive proposition because of the expense of needing an HD TV, a new player and new discs before you can enjoy the difference.

At $49, you start getting to the point where people will pick up a machine they don’t really feel they need. It also puts the technology firmly in the category of affordable Christmas gifts.

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