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Disc Media: the Bygone Era of Digital Entertainment

In a few years from now, the perceived need for physical media formats could become a mere novelty, as more multimedia consumption moves online. Until then, there's the continued debate about the future of the Blu-ray Disc format.

The name Blu-ray Disc (BD) refers to the blue laser used to read the disc, which allows information to be stored at a greater density than possible with red laser technology used for DVDs.

It's not new technology. The first prototype Blu-ray Discs debuted in October 2000, and the first prototype player was released in Japan in April 2003. Its evolution and development continued until it was officially released in June 2006.

According to the latest market study by In-Stat, they now forecast that the number of Blu-ray player units shipped will reach 105 million in 2015.

“DVD players and recorder shipments will decline over the next five years for most regions. By 2015, DVD recorders will be essentially phased out entirely, with only negligible shipments to Japan,” says Norm Bogen, VP Digital Entertainment at In-Stat.

Blu-ray recorders will replace DVD recorders, and many consumers of recorders will even drop the physical disk media option altogether and instead opt for a player with a large hard drive or a DMS in which to store DLNA-certified and other digital video content.

That being said, with the accelerated adoption of music and video online streaming services, I'm wondering if these growth forecasts will be revised downward in the coming months.

I'm thinking that demand for physical media (discs) will likely change as more content consumption shifts to unlimited use online streaming subscriptions -- and away from the traditional disc ownership model, that's now becoming part a bygone era in the digital entertainment industry.

In-Stat's latest market study reveals the following insight:
  • BD players shipped to North America in 2010 represented 38 percent of the total Blu-ray player and recorder market.
  • Japan accounts for the majority of Blu-ray recorders, and Europe is the main market for DVD recorders.
  • At the end of 2010, over 15 percent of Netflix subscribers opted for Blu-ray subscriptions.
  • The Chinese market for Blu-ray has been stalled by the lower prices of the local CBHD standard.

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