Optical Drives Inch Closer to Obsolescence, Ultrabook Prepares Eulogy

Paul Lilly

Years ago a single- or double-speed CD-ROM drive without burning capabilities would set you back several hundred dollars. And today? A twenty-dollar bill buys you a high-speed DVD burner. Even Blu-ray drives aren't all that expensive anymore. Are optical drives on their way out? With ubiquitous broadband, streaming media, cloud storage, and digital downloads taking over, that could very well be the case, and it's already happening in the mobile world.

According to news and rumor site Digitimes , ODD makers admit to facing an uncertain future, particularly as Intel pushes its Ultrabook concept. To maintain an ultrathin and light profile, and to cut costs, Intel's Ultrabook specification won't require an optical drive.

ODD vendor Lite-On has seen the writing on the wall and says there's little chance of its shipments showing a 20-30 percent sequential growth in the third quarter of 2011 as previously predicted, though the company's gaming ODDs and slim-type ODDs are still performing well. Still, Lite-On's working an alternative solution for Ultrabooks, one that it isn't willing to talk about just yet (external storage, perhaps?).

DigiTimes Research believes that slim ODDs will keep the market alive, while half-height ODDs face an already saturated desktop market and will likely see reduced shipments each quarter. Ultimately, ODDs could end up hanging out with floppy drives reminiscing about the good ol' days.

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