This month Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. decided to sell its legendary Verbatim business unit to CMC Magnetics. Verbatim is primarily known for its recordable optical media, but the company also sells USB flash drives, DAS devices, accessories, and so on.

Under the terms of the agreement, CMC will pay Mitsubishi Chemical $32 million in cash for Verbatim-related assets, including patents, technologies, sales network, and other. Being one of the pioneers of blank floppy disk and optical media, Verbatim owns a large portfolio of IP for discs, including production methods, various coatings, and other technologies. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Chemical has used the brand to market USB flash drives, SSDs, DAS devices, power banks, various accessories, and even 3D printing filaments. It is unclear whether CMC is also set to get these businesses and whether it intends to keep them running.

CMC has manufactured Verbatim-branded optical media for a while now using Verbatim’s technologies, so change of ownership is not expected to result in change of quality. Meanwhile, since the whole Verbatim supply chain will now belong to CMC, it is possible to expect the media to get slightly cheaper. Furthermore, with IP from Verbatim, CMC will be able to improve its own-brand products without paying for a license.

The acquisition of Verbatim’s assets by CMC is a yet another sign of consolidation of the optical media market as sales of both blank media and discs with movies shrink. Mitsubishi Chemical no longer sees new opportunities with CD/DVD/Blu-ray media, which is why it is selling not only the brand, but all of the related assets. Mitsubishi is not the only company to exit optical disc media in the recent years. Such legendary names as Taiyo Yuden, TDK, Maxell, Fujifilm, BASF, and other decided to withdraw from this business in the last ~10 years. While some of the aforementioned brands still exist on the market, they are not produced by the original owners.

CMC is one of the world’s largest producers of optical media with operations in China, Taiwan, Thailand, and the US. The discs the company produces are then sold under other brands (HP, Verbatim, etc.) or are used by high-volume commercial customers like movie studios for replication purposes. Besides, the company offers custom packaging services for optical media, something also used primarily by large studios nowadays.

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Source: Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Group

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  • Ken_g6 - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    It's gonna be hard to find archival media better and cheaper than Verbatim DataLifePlus DVD+R. You can get 50 discs for under $16 - that's about 6.7 cents/GB. Flash-based media never quite seems to match that price, and flash degrades unless you keep it in the freezer or something. Hard drives can best that price, but how well do they archive over years or decades?

    Granted, DVDs in general supposedly degrade over decades too. So is flash-in-the-freezer the best solution now?
    Reply
  • nismotigerwvu - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    Well with flash you more or less only have to worry about leakage, which would take years (decade scale). You could always just keep an extra copy on another drive (or 3), check the hashes every couple of years and then rewrite with known good data. You'd run into compatibility issues of either the drive or the data itself before you ever had wear issues. That said, I imagine you could achieve solid results by just storing archival-grade optical media under Ar and protected from light, but most people don't really have access to a glovebox (and well that T tanks may be cheap individually, they really add up over the years). So yeah...multiple flash drives would be the way to go. Reply
  • Maltz - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    ZFS mirrored/raidz flash drives! lol Reply
  • Solandri - Saturday, June 29, 2019 - link

    That was actually a thing back in the Usenet days (when you weren't sure if every piece of a large file would make it to everyone). You'd break the file into, say, 30 pieces, then add 10 parity pieces. As long as people got at least 30 of the 40, they could recreate the original file.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parchive

    I used to do it with my photo archive backups to CD-R / DVD-R, so a disc or two dying of bit rot wouldn't cause irrecoverable data loss. Just substitute another disc with parity info and I could recover the original disc contents.
    Reply
  • npz - Saturday, June 29, 2019 - link

    Flash dies from more than just years old leakage.While I've had that to, I've also new flash drives die or start corrupting. It just happened with a branded Toshiba flash drive. Furthermore, if you keep extra copies, you can't do it at once since they'd all degrade at the same rate. You have to have a refresh schedule to copy onto new drives. At that point, it's just not worth the hassle and maintenance. Good quality optical like Verbatims or archival grade discs (the old Kodak gold or now M-Disc) is pretty much, burn and store away with good assurance. Reply
  • 29a - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    This is what you need to use if your going with optical disks.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-DISC
    Reply
  • mr_tawan - Monday, July 1, 2019 - link

    Just bought a pack of five 100GB BDXL disc when I went to Japan earlier this year. Still wonder what to put on... Reply
  • khanikun - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    I just wish the prices of them would drop. Guess there's just not mass purchases of BD media to get that price lowered. Hell, I don't personally know anyone that even has a BD drive in their comp and I'm a Windows system administrator. It's like no one cares to backup anything.

    I've just got a couple 50 disc spindles of BD-DL media, but past that, the price increases significantly.
    Reply
  • Tams80 - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    Even if you choose another route, for really important data, optical media is a cheap extra that's pretty easy to maintain. You could easily and cheaply write the data from other sources onto fresh discs every decade or two. Reply
  • nagi603 - Saturday, June 29, 2019 - link

    "and flash degrades unless you keep it in the freezer or some"

    So does DVD, as I've (and no doubt others) found out after moving my optically stored stuff to hdds after about a decade of them sitting in a box. Not much, but even Verbatim had some degraded / at least partialla unreadable discs.
    Reply

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