The Demise of Spinning Disks and Other Technology Verges

It’s very clear that memory devices that use spinning platters and disks are all headed to obsolescence soon. This means Hard drives, CD players, DVD’s and DVD players. So what will the replacement be?

The most likely replacement is streaming digital mixed with the SD-MMC card in some form or another. Since manufacturers are making 128 GB versions of these chips, it’s likely that the lower GB versions will become dirt cheap soon, and when that happens 16 GB chips might become the media that movies get sold on. (The typical HD or Blu ray movie takes less than 8GB on average on DVD’s now.) There are also solid state devices using similar memory technology for capacity right now, while solid devices like the Ipod touch are relatively expensive for the average consumer for the memory (64 GB), they will improve.

Disk based industries have a vested interest in keeping spinning platter formats alive, but engineering and physics really demand that the switch be made. CD’s and DVD’s can skip when you hit bumps in cars or when you bounce while walking, while the solid state chips require zero moving parts to play. You can also plug SD-MMC chips into any player device with an SD slot, they are low energy, and the minimal storage space required makes these portable – all are media properties that consumers would desire if manufacturers only provided them. At Best Buy and other stores you could place that entire row of bins of CD’s and DVD’s on a couple of spinning racks of cards with MMC’s on them. Manufacturers already see this coming and are starting to bridge technologies – e.g. if you have an elder Sony Blu ray player, you can get a chip that enables BD-Live.

When this will happen is probably in a span of under ten years but more than a couple, however do keep in mind that many early adopters have already switched to all digital, all streaming for media purchases. The average consumer will still want physical media, but the savings for industry are clear (how much fuel and space do you save shipping MMC’s over CD’s and DVDs?)

I haven’t bought a CD in years, and the past two it’s been the same story for blu ray and DVD formats — why would you when you can just get what you want digitally?

What does this mean for car stereos? Will the MMC slot replace the CD player, and how soon? Will built-in GPS units come solid state and update via SD? Will car stereos come with memory and wi-fi — will you be able to share your full ITUNES or other player library with them? What about DVD players? Will the blue ray player be replaced by a slot in the TV pretty quickly, if not why not?

Meanwhile it’s still expensive for storage on spinning disks once you get to terabyte or better hard drives, and there is a shortage due to flooding in Thailand a while back so the prices will remain high for the short-term, but once SSD’s start dropping in price & raising in capacity the switch is going to happen fast.

So your Blu ray player and that 2 terabyte hard disk drive will become quaintly humorous examples of old tech like an 8 track tape player is now. The changes to storage, shipping, sales, players, and the refresh of technology and network in nodes to support streaming and some form of solid state media will drive industry for years. These are the types of changes that keep the economy growing and the world spinning, so help push back against the recidivist and entrenched industries fighting against change — I mean isn’t it past time that you should be able to stream your entire music library into your car’s stereo player? Isn’t it past time that you should be able to safely archive your photos and media for at least the length of your remaining life span?