Though they were quite popular during the 90’s, floppy disks seem to be nearing the end of their rope in the wake of newer, faster, more reliable and, most importantly, much more capacious storage solutions. To illustrate this impending fall into oblivion, Sony is getting ready to completely stop supplying its home country with such devices, even though it sold about 12 million units last year.
Floppy disks using the 3.5-inch form factor could be seen as elderly compared to today's average young human. They were launched as far back as 1981, as a replacement for the 5.25-inch disk. It was, however, inevitable for this technology to eventually be outgrown and it seems that old age has finally caught up with the storage media.
Floppy disks started losing popularity when CDs first emerged and showed that they could store much more data. This phenomenon was perpetuated as CDs became mainstream and, later, with the emergence of DVDs and Blu-ray disks. However, even in such conditions, floppy disks were still around because they served as recovery/system disks for operating systems and were still an easy means of transporting small documents. This last asset was lost after USB Flash drives became more than capable of performing backup and security tasks, not to mention that they were much smaller.
Starting with March 2011, Sony will no longer be selling Floppy disks in Japan, even though it currently holds 70% of the total market for such products. This is because even consumer interest has waned. In fact, while the 12-million figure may sound grand to some, it is, in truth, quite diminutive compared with the 47 million in Fiscal Year 2002.
Sony's departure from this market will likely mean a couple of years of better sales for those companies that currently share the remaining 30% of the Japanese market. Still, those companies will also, eventually, have to find some other ventures, considering that most files nowadays are already larger than the 1.44MB maximum capacity of such storage units.