Could physical media discs be a thing of the past within the next five years? That's a growing debate as consumers continue their shift to digital distribution platforms such as Apple's iTunes and Valve Software's Steam. Downloadable and streaming digital content has become easier to obtain in recent years as hardware specs continue to climb in PCs, consoles, and handheld devices. As it stands, the Blu-ray format may not enjoy the same lifespan as its predecessor, the DVD.
Microsoft's Xbox & Entertainment Director Stephen McGill recently spelled out Blu-ray's doom in an interview during a Halo: Reach launch party, echoing the company's stance against using the costlier Blu-ray optical drive in its console. Although at one time Microsoft did offer an external HD DVD player for watching movies through the Xbox 360, McGill made it clear that the "old school" DVD drive isn't holding the console back in regards to its overall lifespan.
"I think people may have spoken about that originally, but that's long gone," McGill said. "I think people now recognize what a smart decision it was to keep the pricing low, and actually Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming, so we offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"
As it stands, it's apparent that the next Xbox console may not feature a Blu-ray drive. In fact, it's possible that the console will be void of any optical drives whatsoever. Still, despite the digital demands of consumers, writable Blu-ray optical drives are finding their way into mainstream PCs and stand-alone Blu-ray players are becoming a standard device in the living room. With 3D infiltrating into the Blu-ray market, it seems that the format will be around for a lot longer than McGill implies.
So what's your take? Do you purchase more Blu-ray discs, or do you prefer digital downloads and streaming?