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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Dead: CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays

When was the last time you used your DVD-drive? Wait, your device doesn’t even have one? There you go. There are a lot of statistics thrown around (CD sales are falling every year, DVDs aren’t selling at the same pace, Blu-Ray never really took off).

gadgets Updated: Nov 26, 2011 20:04 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times

Most tech pundits will have you believe that the brutal kill started some time back. There are a lot of statistics thrown around (CD sales are falling every year, DVDs aren’t selling at the same pace, Blu-Ray never really took off). Apple Fanboys already performed the last rites as soon as the MacBook Air came without a optical drive (plus, the new Air packaging doesn’t even have a CD in the box – everything is on a USB stick).

The hot ticket item of the year, the Tablet, completely shuns all optical media and there isn’t a single Tablet that comes with a built-in drive. Most people don’t remember the last time they used the drive that comes on their laptop: gigantic USB and network drives have made sure that back-ups and photos that needed (multiple) CDs and lots of effort are now automated background tasks that we never have to think about. File-sharing services have made sure that music, movies and games are all transferred and saved without a shiny disc ever coming into play. But the real death of the optical media starts from now – and it is all because of the Obsolete Maker.

The Serial Killer

cdsThis is a fairly unique cause and effect syndrome in technology that comes into play every few years. When one momentous technology or device gets a tremendous boost from the industry and consumers, it unwittingly kills off another piece of technology that had been around and reigning for a long time. It’s what mobile phones did to all of you that had pagers hanging from your belt (that nerdy look was apparently quite a power dressing feature); it’s what the CD did to the super romantic idea of a mix audio tape made for your girlfriend (somehow a mix CD was never quite the same); and it’s what the digital camera did to all of us standing in line and waiting a few days to get our photos developed (slightly uncomfortable to have your local photo shop guy salivating over some of your more private pictures). The final salvo for optical media will come due to a very hot and happening new category.

The 2012 Rockstar

In 2011, all we heard about was which company would come out with what Tablet and how many variations there would be and how each would be an Apple iPad killer. Funny how a few months can change things so dramatically: right now, the big news is how many companies will get out of the Tablet market. HP is already out and it seems Acer, Asus and Dell may soon stage a walkaway too. For the year 2012, there’s just one new category that every single company seems to be geared up for. Products are being announced at the speed of light, new releases are arriving one after the other, startling price points and barriers are tumbling and sleek form factors and fantastic features are the order of the day. This hot-as-molten-lava category is the Ultrabook and it is the reason why optical media is going to die a pretty gruesome death.

Salvation for all

The Ultrabook is now the go-to ‘bread and butter’ area for most brands. It’s a Tablet with a keyboard, it’s the instant-start Netbook, it’s the thin and sleek laptop and it’s the economy Notebook with premium luxury features. And not one has an optical drive included! When a complete category that prided itself in always including a drive suddenly turns on a dime and ignores it in absolute terms, the demise of that technology is imminent. Do remember that the last real computing tool today is still the laptop. It’s what we all use to create content (Tablets continue to be media consumption devices) and it is what 99 per cent of the corporate world still uses. Once this billion dollar market goes optical media-less, it’s a huge and paradigm shifting turnaround! Coupled with the fact that mobile phones and Tablets do not need any kind of optical media, this means that almost one hundred per cent of people who will own a new portable gadget in the next one year will neither have nor need an optical drive at all!

Blu RayNo way?

There are naysayers, those who throw out improving sales numbers of DVD movies and Blu-Ray picking up some momentum. Granted that the movie business will need a high capacity medium to sell an HD movie and Blu-Ray is a great choice. But HD movie streaming, renting and downloading is now a reality, another future story that will kill off many other technologies. It will happen – it is but a matter of time and bandwidth. And with that will end the very short reign of Blu-Ray.

It’s always a slightly melancholy and sad time to see life slowly ebb away from a great technology. The CD and all its avatars has been one of the greatest technological breakthroughs of all times. Keep the ones you have in a safe, secure place. You’re not going to see them after a while :(

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at

From HT Brunch, November 27

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First Published: Nov 26, 2011 17:19 IST

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