Sony just pushed a once-standard laptop feature further into the grave

A flag bearing the Sony Group Corp. logo outside the company's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, June 6, 2024. The Japanese company said it expects sales revenue to be ¥12.3 trillion in the year through March 2025. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sony confirmed to AV Watch last week that the company will gradually phase out one type of physical media beloved by cinephiles. In doing so, it also pushed a once-standard laptop feature—the disc drive—further into the grave.

Yes, it seems that Blu-ray discs — but only the recordable variety — are going away. This news comes after a report from Mainichi where it was revealed that Sony would cut around 250 jobs from its division specializing in recordable media.

The remaining recordable optical discs will continue to be on sale for now, with Sony claiming that "the specific end date will be decided in the future."

The decline of physical media

Physical and digital media have been in a long battle, but in the last few years, it's looking less like an actual battle and more like one-sided domination. A Gitnux market data report from this year shows that in 2021, 58.8 percent of media purchased was digital versus 41.2 percent being physical. 

These numbers become more extreme when looking at specific mediums. In 2020, 74 percent of video game sales were digital, and in the first half of 2020, 94.3 percent of home release film revenue was digital, while only 5.7 percent was physical.

The picture being painted here is difficult to argue against, as the unavoidable market domination of digital media is here, and it's here to stay. Businesses like Sony obviously have to re-evaluate their presence in such a market as things change so drastically. 

In the AV Watch interview, Sony itself admits that "Cold storage market [growth] has not met expectations, and overall performance of our storage media business has continued to be in the red." It's no surprise that the company is taking these actions in response.

Laptop CD-DVD drives could not be more dead

As a result of the death of recordable Blu-ray discs, I can only think of the parallel death of laptop disc drives. We have an inside joke at Laptop Mag about laptops with CD-DVD drives, as they aren't made in great numbers anymore, yet have enough market interest that our best laptops with CD-DVD drives buying guide continues to perform well.

While that's a pretty bizarre thing on its own, the shrinking of Sony's Blu-ray business will have a massive impact on the physical media market as a whole, and almost certainly solidifies the long-term death of laptops with CD-DVD drives.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000

(Image credit: Future)

And why should your laptop or PC have a disc drive to begin with? Physical games are completely dead on PC, and while the previous gaming tower I owned did have a CD-DVD Drive, I never used it once. The last physical game I ever remember purchasing for PC was Wildstar, and which launched in 2014.

Besides, if you're someone who wants to play discs on your PC for whatever reason, you can always invest in the best external DVD drives. Most of the options on that list cost less than $50, so even if you need it, the option is there.

But Blu-ray will continue to live

However, Blu-ray isn't actually dead. Sony isn't making these decisions as a way of phasing out Blu-ray, but to try and keep its business alive. The AV Watch interview specifically cites that the company will change to "more efficient operations in line with the scale of our business."

As for what's specifically discontinued as of now, the following Blu-ray products will be phased out of production: BD-RE (25GB), BD-RE DL (50GB), BD-RE XL (100GB), and BD-R XL (128GB). These are specifically recordable discs available on the consumer level, but Blu-ray will continue to remain on a grander scale for now.

Sony specifically says it will "continue to produce and sell the product in stock [for business-to-business customers.]" What this essentially means is that Blu-ray releases for games, films, and other media will continue as normal, but everyday consumers will begin to have trouble purchasing individual blank Blu-ray discs.

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Claire Tabari
Contributing Writer

Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Claire finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Claire is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.