One of the hottest news in last week was end of HD formats war. HD-DVD got dropped, Blu-Ray people are more than happy, but days of their format are counted as well. Arguably Blu-Ray won’t even last as long as DVD (12 years and counting). Here’s why:
Optical disks gained popularity in times, where CPM (cost per megabyte) of using them was way lower than HDD. Hard disks had capacities like 2GB, and buying three CDs 650MB each was way cheaper. It was economically reasonable to buy CDs, and keep your files there. I don’t recall the numbers but I’m sure that CPM must have been at least 10 times higher for hard drives. Also consider the fact that one hard drive had capacity of few-several CDs. If you wanted to keep your files on CDs, it was quite easy to find them, even if you had to switch a few CD in and out of your CD drive to find what you were looking for. It was worth the overhead because it was much cheaper.
This is no longer the case. CPG (cost per gigabyte) of reasonably priced HDD and DVD are more or less equal. For Blu-Rays it’s 4x higher (but it will eventually drop, as the format gets adopted). The biggest advantage of optical discs is lost. Hard disks are so easier to use. You don’t have to juggle with disks to get to what you need – it’s always there. Hard disks are so much more reliable. How many times have you lost some important files because you scratched your optical disk? How many times have you lost your important files because you’ve… lost your optical disk? Hard disks are so much more convenient to use, you want to write a file, you drag and drop it. You want to delete it? – one keystroke. No need to use cumbersome software, remember about sessions… it just works.
There’s actually one more aspect where optical disks have advantage over hard disks – they’re smaller and more portable. You just burn your data with this cumbersome software, and take it with you. It’s certainly more convenient that using external hard drive, that are way heavier. However, pendrives have most of hard drive’ advantages (fast, reliable, no need to use special software to use them) and are small and light. Even smaller than optical disks, as you can put them in your pocket. Also in the era of fast broadband connections, the best option may be to send the files over the Internet.
As downloading (legal) music/movies/software becomes more popular there will be really NO reason to use optical drives at all. I have 3 DVD burners at home, and I can’t recall when was the last time I burned a DVD or CD. Actually I use them solely to watch movies, or to play games that have protections and I can’t make usable image of them.
That’s why I think that Blu-Ray’s victory is Pyrrhic, and that its the last optical format we’re going to see.