Slowly but surely, spinning discs are dying out, and Samsung just put another nail in their coffin. The company told Forbes that it’s done producing new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players — and CNET was able to confirm that Samsung is halting production on at least some of its 1080p Blu-ray players as well.
“Samsung will no longer introduce new Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray player models in the US market,” a Samsung spokesperson told CNET.
Technically, there’s still the possibility that Samsung may continue to produce its existing Blu-ray players for months or years to come — the company still has quite a few models on sale — or introduce new ones in specific countries outside the US. We’ve asked Samsung to clarify.
But practically speaking, Samsung may have just announced that it’s quitting the Blu-ray business, like Oppo did last April.
Even though Samsung was gung-ho enough about 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays to beat every other company to the punch with the first player in 2016, it’s not all that surprising that Samsung might bow out early now. Discs are on the decline, with research company Nielsen recently using Blu-ray and DVD players as the example of a technology that’s on its way out.
“Some devices, such as DVD/Blu-ray players, are in the declining phase of their product life cycle as streaming devices gain prominence,” reads Nielsen’s Q2 2018 report, adding that only 66 percent of TV watching households have one now, compared to 72 percent the year before. Nielsen also says the average US adult spends just 5 minutes a day — by far the least of any screen activity — using a Blu-ray or DVD player.
And streaming services have stepped up in a big way too, especially by making 4K streams less expensive. Apple and Google both sell 4K movies for the same price as 1080p HD now, and will upgrade your HD movies to 4K for free. Amazon notably dropped its prices as well. Plus, an excellent 4K streaming device has never been cheaper than it is now.
You could definitely argue that discs are still the best experience, with the best picture and audio quality. I prefer popping in a Blu-ray myself. But between the rise of streaming and the fact that 4K movies aren’t always actually 4K but often mastered at lower resolutions, they may just not be compelling enough as a business anymore.
Perhaps Sony wasn’t being stingy when it omitted a 4K Blu-Ray player from the PS4 Pro. Perhaps it was just being smart.