The market of optical disc drives (ODDs) follows the general trends of the personal computers market and there is no surprise that it is on the decline in well-developed countries and in the United Kingdom in particular. What is alarming is that in the United Kingdom very few video enthusiasts are buying Blu-ray disc (BD) supporting optical drives.
According to a recent report from GfK retail market research company, sales of ODDs remain dominated by the DVD-RW drives which hold a 92% share for November 2008 and have remained consistently above 90% for the past 23 months. Meanwhile, sales of Blu-ray disc (as well as Super Multi Blue universal BD/HD DVD drives by LG and HD DVD standalone drives by Toshiba [which represented a miniature share of sales]) drives managed to hold a 4% volume share and a 16% value share in November 2008 in the United Kingdom, according to GfK.
In November 68% of the DVD-RW drives were internal, which one can assume will be used to go inside a desktop computer. However for a long time now desktop PCs have been falling out of favour with consumers who are opting for the mobility of a laptop or netbook which are harder to upgrade, according to GfK. Subsequently sales of desktop PCs have been in steep decline which has not helped the once resilient upgrade aspect of the ODD market and therefore is a possible explanation for why the internal versus external share is wavering towards external DVD-RW drives.
According to GfK, 81% of mobile computers and 86% of desktop systems came with a DVD-RW in October 2008.
“With such high levels of DVD-RW already installed in desktop and mobile computers it is little surprise that sales of the UK DVD-RW market has fallen by 14%,” said Sean Fellows, an analyst for GfK.
Still, there could be still hope for ODD manufacturers in the form of the high-definition drive segment, according to GfK. The growth of BD adoption has helped to ward off market declines to a small extent: only 1% of desktop PCs have a high-definition drive pre-installed.
According to GfK, there are more promising factors: when one looks at the premium which has to be paid for a desktop PC with an HD video-supporting drive (by this it is meant Blu-ray supporting or BD/HD DVD drive), it is less expensive to purchase a desktop pre-installed advanced ODD separately, which is logical, as with a Blu-ray drive computer makers install a number of other premium-class components, such as faster microprocessors and advanced graphics cards.
As a result, GfK believes, there still may be hope for the retail ODD market in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, as the differential between computers with a Blu-ray/HD ODD and those without continue to be eroded over time, the upgrade ODD market is only set to further decline. It will not be until Blu-ray becomes widely adopted by the consumer that we will see this market decline ease off.