DVD slow to catch on
By Zachary Shess
It`s no secret that multiple standards have long been a gating factor holding back a potential industry from blooming. For OEMs, VARs, and end-users looking to use today`s DVD technology, they first must wade through an acronym soup of divergent formats before they can spell out what will work best for their application. For that and other reasons, industry analysts such as Dataquest`s Mary Bourdon believe full-scale DVD implementation is still a few years away.
Despite steady growth in the overall optical market, Bourdon says the 740,000 DVD-ROM devices shipped last year fell short of expectations. She points to several factors for DVD`s slow growth, including relatively high prices, lack of content, and an inability to read any rewritable DVD format.
Not helping matters are the multiple rewritable formats that are emerging. Currently, there is DVD-RAM, supported by the large DVD Forum; DVD+RW, backed by Sony, Phillips, and Hewlett-Packard; Pioneer`s DVD-R/W; and NEC`s Multi-Media Video File (MMVF) format. ASMO rounds out the eventual options. (For more information on rewritable DVD, see the July Cover Story, "Multiple Rewritable Formats Chill DVD.")
For DVD technology to grow in acceptance, Bourdon says several factors must come to fruition, including lower prices, increased content, and higher inclusion rates into PCs. For example, less than 3% of new PCs shipped in 1997 were DVD-enabled. For PC manufacturers to begin full-scale implementation, DVD prices must come down and the technology must "be hyped outside the box before they are going to place it inside the box," Bourdon says.
Increased DVD content must also develop to help drive demand. Other than movies, DVD is void of significant content. Looking to the future, Bourdon is optimistic that DVD manufacturers will get beyond the gating factors holding them back in 1998. For example, she expects CD-ROM shipments to peak next year, with DVD-ROM outshipping CD-ROM near 2001.