Sony prepares to stop manufacturing floppy disksBy Rick Burgess 22 comments
With another nail hammered into its coffin, the venerable floppy diskette continues its creeping but inexorable end as Sony announces the company will no longer sell the 28 year old digital storage medium in Japan.
Since their peak of 47 million units sold in 2002, Sony's floppy disk business has dwindled steadily. Japan is one of the few remaining markets where Sony still sells floppies, where it accounts for roughly 70% of all sales. The company is not jumping ship yet though, as it plans to continue selling the 3.5 inchers domestically until March 2011.
Sony has been involved with many digital storage devices over the years, but few have been as pervasive as the floppy diskette. IBM created the original floppy disk which measured a whopping 8 inches wide. Many iterations of the device followed as companies came up with smaller and faster designs. As one of these companies, Sony introduced their own 90mm diskette in 1982, but it never took off; 5.25 inch floppies were too firmly entrenched within the industry. Despite the apparent failure of Sony's form factor, a group of companies used it as the basis for what would become the 3.5 inch floppy, eventually ending the "five and quarter's" reign.
As consumers' needs became more complex, the need for capacity increased and floppies were simply unable to meet that demand. Despite this crucial inadequacy, many technologies which aimed to supplant the aging medium such as Zip disks, Super Disks and recordable CDs failed to replace it entirely.
Eventually, it took the ubiquitous adoption of USB flash drives to serve as the death knell for mainstream floppy usage. However, with over 12 million disks sold in 2009 by Sony alone, it would seem floppies may be around for some time come.