The Blu-ray optical disc format loses ground as a popular medium for the home entertainment industry under the "pressure" of video-on-demand and downloads, although it could be still used by professional for storage archiving.
The Blu-ray Disc format has failed to reach the market levels of the successful DVD format, which dominated the home entertainment landscape in 2004. The relatively high prices of BD movies, the fact that BD player makers failed to offer affordable devices fast enough to help the format take off and the popularity of streaming services have all contributed to slow overall growth of BD as an entertainment medium. In addition, the Blu-ray disc format has failed to compete with the faster flash memory storage products in the computer sector.
In its latest financial forecast, Sony has warned of heavy losses primarily due to its exit from the PC business and because "demand for physical media was contracting faster than anticipated."
A report released earlier this year by Generator Research showed revenue from DVD and Blu-ray sales will likely decrease by 38% over the next four years.
Blu-ray could revive its popularity if the entertainment industry decides to offer the emerging 4K movie content on discs. On the other hand, the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) video compression standard doubles the amount of data that can currently be streamed, meaning that this data cloud be actually "high-definition" movies with resolutions up to 8192x4320, although broadband internet speeds should be further improved in order to deliver viewers the maximum entertainment experience.
Since 2006, when the optical disc sales peaked, the sales have plummeted by about 30%, according to the Digital Entertainment Group. Still, DVD have maintained some respectable sales figures driven mainly by kiosk-style rental machines.
Market research firm IHS Technology says total spending on home entertainment sales and rentals increased only 0.7% to about $18.3 billion, last year. That growth is a slower than in 2012 when sales and rentals had increased 3.1% year-over-year.
Last year, about 124 million Blu-ray discs were sold in the U.S., a 4.2% increase over 2012, according to IHS Technology. However, due to the reduced pricing for the format, revenue only increased 2.6%. DVD sales, which have been plummeting for years, dropped 13.6% last year.
Optical media could regain traction for long-term backup and storage of personal data. Cloud storage offerings are becoming cheaper every day but they have not managed to reach the reliability levels of the optical disc back ups.
Facebook recently revealed it deployed a low-power "cold storage" system filled with 10,000 Blu-ray discs. The system could help reduce storage costs by 50% and energy use by 80% compared with current hard-disk drive, cold-storage system.
Millenniata offers up to 25GB of capacity in a disc composed of chemically stable and heat-resistant metals, promising to o keep data fresh for hundreds of years.
Sony and Panasonic have formulated the "Archival Disc", a new standard for professional-use optical discs for long-term digital data storage.
The specifications include a 300 GB write-once disc with three recording layers in each of its sides (double-sided).
And the Blu-ray Disc XL (BDXL) format supports 100GB and 128GB write-once discs for corporate data storage. These are considered to be good long-term back up solutions compared to HDDs, flash or tape storage.