Is Blu-ray a failure? Duh.

“Is Blu-ray a failure?” is an interesting article by Cringely which essentially makes some of the points I made late last year, but fails to really provide a firm answer to the question.┬áHere’s a simple way of looking at it:

When CD-ROM burners first became available to normal people, blank CD media cost around $10 a disk at a time when a 600MB hard disk cost well over $1000 (the Quadra 840AV — a very well-specced and pricey computer of the time — came with a 230MB hard disk). Over the next ten years, CD media got about 10-20x cheaper while hard disks got about 100x cheaper.

Today, a blank BD-R DL disk (50GB capacity) costs about $20, which is more expensive than using 1TB hard disks as a storage medium. A burner will set you back around $150. And it’s slower, and probably less reliable than a hard disk or USB stick. (Consumer hard disks have a MTBF of what … two years of normal use? Anyone ever tried using a CD-R or DVD-R for two years? Any reason to expect BD-R to be better?) So to get your first 100GB of Blu-ray storage will cost you the same amount as a high quality 1TB hard disk, or 200-400GB of USB sticks, but don’t worry it also costs more per extra GB, and — if history is any guide — its competitors go on to get better and cheaper much, much faster.

Blu-ray also lacks all the other ancillary advantages that allowed CD and DVD to succeed in their respective niches. Each was replacing a less reliable, less versatile format which lacked random access (DVD managed to screw this up by forcing us to watch trailers anyway). Blu-ray is competing with hard disks, USB sticks, and cloud repositories, which are actually more reliable, more versatile, and provide better access.

Oh, right. The answer is “yes”.