The death of optical media may have been greatly exaggerated. Well, sort of...
Non-profit industry organisation the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) has announced sales of Blu-ray discs have virtually doubled year-on-year. The news comes after it reported 8.4m discs flew off shop shelves in Q1 2010 which represents a 94 per cent increase on Q1 2009. Total spending was 151.4m euros.
"Blu-ray has continued to ride the wave of success at the start of 2010 and it is promising to see consumers respond well to the format," said Warner Home Video senior VP Yves Caillaud. "The industry is providing consumers with the most innovative and enjoyable home entertainment experiences, and we expect sales to increase as the penetration of HDTVs continues to accelerate."
So we were all wrong and physical media isn't dead? Not really. You see if you look a little bit closer cracks start to appear. The first is sales of Blu-ray discs in Q1 2009 were actually up 109 per cent on Q1 2008, so the rate of adoption has slowed. Furthermore sales of DVDs during Q1 2010 were 135m at a total cost of 1.3bn euros which shows despite being on the market for nearly four years consumers still haven't been converted to Blu-ray en masse, even with the rip roaring success of flat screen HD TVs.
Will 3D boost it? Doubtful. After all while the Blu-ray 3D standard has been finalised, we have yet to see any commercial discs and sales of 3D TVs are likely to remain niche for many years to come.
Against this take-up of Sky+HD digiboxes, Virgin Media's expanding HD line-up, Amazon's disc on demand streaming service, PVRs and media players all provide ways to view High Def content without worrying about re-buying your entire movie collection in 10 years time.
Yes there will always be users who want a physical copy of their media - both audio and video - but they will be ever more marginalised as time passes. Will there even be a successor to Blu-ray? I'm hugely sceptical.