Hey, did you hear? Blu-ray is selling like gangbusters this year, already raking in over $330 million and accounting for 12.3% of sales revenue for packaged media, according to Blu-ray.com. You know a good way to kill said sales? Start a format war — with yourself!
Well, it's not a war yet, but it's going to be something that's hanging over Blu-ray owners' heads: Sony's new Blu-ray XL, or BDXL, boasts a capacity of up to 128GB (and 100GB on rewritable XL discs), thanks to the fact that it uses four readable layers per disc. Those added layers mean that current Blu-ray player lasers aren't powerful enough, however, and you'll need new hardware to read them all. Before you throw your player out the window, take heart in the fact that consumers probably won't see these high-capacity discs for a while. Sony plans for them to be used in the professional sector where high volumes of data need to be pressed onto a single disc, such as in the medical-imaging or broadcast-media industries. That, and 3D movies should fit on current Blu-ray discs.
In the long run, it could mean interesting things for the world of Blu-ray, beyond just making consumers buy new players — not to mention making one of the best players on the market, the PlayStation 3, obsolete in this regard. Higher capacity discs mean that the BDXL format could do more than, say, streaming media, in that a higher quality of HD could be packed onto the larger discs, or even more episodes of your favorite TV show, making your rentals go further.
That's important, as physical media needs to be able to offer something to most consumers beyond simple ownership. Why go spend money on a movie when you could just stream it from a service you already subscribe to? Well, in the future, maybe the quality will be better than you could feasibly stream. Maybe in the end it's a losing battle, though, as streaming media will always be improving, too.