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The sales of Blu-ray discs plummeted in the past months. Recently, BD-R manufacturers are forced to shutdown, this included the discontinuation of Panasonic (nicknamed Pana 25) supplies. The collapse of the BD-R disc format was imminent after the popularity of online streaming and the availability of cheap SD-card/pen-drive/flash drive units. Users, including ones who have burned thousands of BD-R discs, leaving the format, causing the market to disintegrate. The community is entered a panic mode in the recent months.
Blu-ray disc is a proprietary format invented by Sony. After the format was born, they had to compete with the HD-DVD standard, which lost against the Blu-ray format. A regular CD can store up to 700 MByte data, a regular DVD can store 4.7 GB of data. A normal Blu-ray disc can store 25 GB, and a double layer BD-disc can store up to 50 GB. The failed HD-DVD proposal was only able to store 15 GB, and this was the main reason it lost against Blu-ray. Blu-ray uses a blue colored laser, allowing bigger data density.
Despite its bigger capacity than normal DVD (4.7 GB vs. 25 GB) these discs never got mainstream. I must admit: i never had or seen Blu-ray discs, and never seen anyone who is actually used one. The format is proprietary, and Sony asks a premium price from the corporations to be able to produce drives and discs complying with the blu-ray format. Sony started using the Blu-ray technology in their new generations of game consoles a decade ago (in the Play Station 3), and some studios also started releasing movies on Blu-ray media, creating a market for desktop Blu-ray players. The format, despite its bigger disc size, however offers no notable difference compared to regular DVD-players. The normal DVD players are later equipped with more wide compatibility with video formats, such as playing avi files. Especially, after more modern compression algorithms are released to compress the h264 video format (mp4) or the legacy h262 format (such as DIVX/XVID avis) and the desktop DVD players can read some of these, there was no real need for the higher density Blu-ray format.
The price of the Blu-ray discs never fell close to the DVD discs. A writable DVD-R disc can be bought for 0.2$ but a writable BD-R costs 0.7$ (prices of course vary from country to country, these prices are the East-European prices in big quantity, directly from distributors). An 50 GB BD-R (dual layer) disc costs between 3-20$ (the $3 units are illegal Chinese replicas without BD-license, burnable at 2x, and not compatible with half of the burners and players). A proper 50 gb BD-disc therefore costs more than a second-hand 500 GB SATA HDD ($15), making the Blu-ray format a bad choice for storing data. And due to the lack of compatibility, its a bad choice for home entertainment as well.
A few years ago, all European manufacturers started to bankrupt. The manufacturing lines to create Blu-ray discs were expensive, and the volumen of the sales was not able to sustain the loans. Only the manufacturers in the far east survived, until now. Due to the combined effect of the economic stagnation caused by the corona virus, and the formats weakness against SD cards and pen-drives, and online streaming, the Asian manufacturers started to fell on their knees in the previous months.
Due to the patent trolling of Sony and socialist/statist over regulation of the anti-democratic European Union, the far eastern BD-R discs are unable to reach the European market with proper price tags, usually the ones without license or concession will get confiscated at the borders. With the scrict control of the format, Sony caused a chain reaction that forced the users of the format to return to normal DVD-s, or just use flash media or hard discs for archiving. An offshore Hungarian Blu-ray / DVD disc trader company, which will not be named in this article, expressed the uncertainty about the unpredictable sales of certain BD-R discs, multiple month long waiting lists, discontinuation of various products, and other general problems with the business.
Despite of the rapid fell of DVD sales as well, the format is widespread and free enough to survive on the market. Since the early 2000's, slow demise of every optical formats can be observed. DVD gained popularity in 2002-2003, when also the cheap 2x DVD-R and DVD+R burners entered the market from LG and Pioneer. Blu-ray entered later in the game, and it was not able to push out notable number of content releases, the writable media also gained no widespread adoption at users.
When CD gained popularity in the end of the 90's, the size of a hard disk was about 1 GByte. The regular CD was 700 MByte in size, being able to hold almost as much data as the hard drive, and the size was equivalent of 500 floppy disks. Later on, the DVD format in the early 2000's also came just in time, by increasing the size from 700 MB to 4.7 GB, by this time a consumer hard disk size was roughly 20-30 GB. However, the Blu-ray only increased the size from 4.7 GB of DVD to 25 GB, which is too small compared to a hard drives (nowadays, a consumer PC hard drive is 4-8 TB, and SSD-s are about 1 TB). Using Blu-ray discs are too inconvenient compared to SD cards and pen-drives, modern laptops don't usually even include any optical drive.
(Audio CD sale figures. source: digital scrapbooking storage)
In the war of disc formats against HD-DVD and Blu-ray, we can safely say, both is died right on the scene. The winners are the normal DVD discs and SD cards. If you wish to continue using Blu-ray technology in your home, i recommend you to buy a few 100 Blu-ray discs, and a second-hand spare Blu-ray burner, due to uncertain future of the technology. If you need optical format, then we recommend you to use the normal DVD, which will still be around for a while.