Sony Ending Floppy Disc Production, But Discs And Drives Still Available
Sony, which has a 70 percent share of the Japanese market for 3.5-inch floppy discs, will discontinue sales of those discs in that country and withdraw from the market at the end of March 2011, Japan's Mainichi Daily News reported Friday.
Sony, which launched the market for 3.5-inch floppy discs in 1981, sold 47 million of the discs at its peak in 2002, but sales were down to 12 million last year, Mainichi reported.
Sony discontinued sales of the discs outside of Japan last month except in a limited number of countries, including in India, Mainichi reported.
Sony was the last Japanese manufacturer of 3.5-inch floppy discs, but other vendors such as Imation and Maxell still offer them. The discs and the drives necessary to use them still remain available from many sources such as floppydisk.com.
Sony's decision does not mean the storage medium will disappear completely. However, it does reflect how irrelevant it has become in an age of Internet-based storage, storage clouds, removable hard drives, and USB thumb drives so cheap they are trade show giveaways.
2009 was a difficult year for floppy disc manufacturing, but the business is actually rebounding a bit in 2010, said Will Qualls, global product director for the magnetic tape business of Imation.
"Whether it's a reaction to Sony's news by people buying ahead, I don't know," Qualls said.
Imation has no plan to end production of the diskettes, Qualls said. "There's a need for them in certain areas," he said. "As long as we can produce them profitably, we will."
While floppy discs have pretty much disappeared from the desktop, some people have found unique uses for the product.
One enterprising person, for instance, provides instructions on how to build a carrying bag from floppy discs.