Even as Blu-ray disc and Blu-ray player sales are growing, Sony is looking to make the format more compelling and better use its BD-Live service's Internet connectivity.
At a small press event in San Francisco recently, the company introduced a new feature of BD-Live called MovieIQ, which will be included on some high-profile releases from Sony starting in September. It's essentially IMDb live -- while a movie is playing, facts about casting, directors, production and actors' filmographies pop up on-screen. It's powered not by IMDb, but by CDDB, created by Gracenote, which Sony purchased just over a year ago.
It's the kind of feature intended to keep people from pausing a movie and hopping online to ask questions such as, "I love that guy! What else has he been in?" Previous online efforts from BD-Live have included exclusive trailers, Facebook chat and some trivia games, but MovieIQ seems like something users would engage with repeatedly, not something they'd just use once and forget about.
A senior Sony exec at the event, Tracy Garvey, called MovieIQ the "first killer-app for BD-Live". That sounded like an admission that none of the BD-Live features thus far have been all that compelling.
It's clear Sony is still in the process of fine-tuning its BD-Live strategy. At the event, Sony vice president Rich Marty said that while 37 million Blu-ray discs were sold in 2008, the company has only released about 100 titles that are BD-Live enabled. In other words, they still have a long way to go.
"BD-Live is complementary to Blu-ray," he said on Thursday. "It was never meant to compete with the Web, it's not a VOD [video on demand] play. We're still building the foundation."