When Sony introduced the Blu-Ray optical disc format in 2006 alongside the PlayStation 3, it was set to revolutionize home media as we know it. It made sense to bundle a Blu-Ray drive with the PS3 based on the success the PS2 had with its bundled DVD drive six years earlier.
Unfortunately for Sony, the Blu-Ray format didn’t quite live up to its lofty expectations despite boasting high-definition audio and video with up to 50 gigs of data on one shiny disc (25 gig media is also available). Manufacturers like TDK have also released 100 GB BD-R XL discs with up to 100 GB capacity.
Due to the popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, Blu-Ray took a major hit and it is suspected the highly-ambitious format is going the way of the dinosaur.
Recent financial reports do not look rosy, reportedly due to the exit of Sony from its Vaio personal computing business and eight year investment in the Blu-Ray format. According to the latest reports, Sony officials have stated that demand for physical media is contracting faster than they anticipated.
It’s not just the diminishing market for Blu-Ray that has been affected. Three years ago Blu-Ray sales had reportedly risen to 35% but have since taken a nosedive.
Blu-Ray did have a rocky start. It first had to compete with the Microsoft-backed HD-DVD format which it ultimately lost out, due to the rising popularity of the PlayStation 3. The format is still the primary physical media for the latest PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gaming consoles. Most gamers still prefer physical media for gaming since internet speeds have not yet gotten to a point globally where reliable download speeds can be attained.
There is still a niche market comprising of film enthusiasts and serial gamers who enjoy buying Blu-Rays and DVDs, continually contributing to their collections. The major appeal is in special collectors editions that are housed in exclusive limited edition packaging and come with an array of bonuses. Once these collections are no longer produced, they skyrocket in value.
That being said physical media is not dead yet. It is possible that digital media will completely replace physical media once technology gets to a point whereby it is feasible to do so. But, physical media will always appeal to those of us who want to have a physical connection to our favorite films and videogames especially, if they come in shiny attractive box sets!