Recordable DVD drives could be a big hit with consumers, but a simmering standards battle is jeopardizing widespread acceptance of the technology.
Although industry leaders and analysts have identified latent demand for a high-capacity storage medium that allows consumers to inexpensively record their own DVD disks, a turf war has prevented the technology from coming into the mainstream.
About this time last year, the outlook for quickly establishing a recordable DVD standard looked dim, as almost every week competing factions announced new, proprietary formats. One year later, not much has improved. Only one such format has actually been introduced, and the chances for averting a full-on standards battle are becoming slimmer.
DVD-ROM is a write-once digital versatile disc which generally holds 4.7GB
of data--enough to store an entire feature-length film--and is gaining in
popularity after a contentious standards battle of its own. Rewritable DVD
takes the concept one step further by allowing consumers to erase and
re-record data, like people do with VCRs and tape decks but not CD-ROMs.
The availability of recordable DVD discs is widely seen as the key to
tapping into a potentially huge consumer DVD market, provided that the
numerous proprietary formats for the new storage technology are eventually
streamlined into one or two standard formats, at consumer price-points.
"If the DVD format is to replace the VCR it must be a recordable product at
a consumer price point," said Schwerin, noting that 15 years
passed between the introduction of CDs and the availability of rewritable
CD drives priced for consumers.
About a year ago, four different formats for rewritable DVD emerged, each
backed by several major consumer electronics firms, and each incompatible
with the other. They are: DVD-RAM, DVD+RW, ASMO, and
So far, among the rewritable DVD formats in the running, DVD-RAM and DVD+RW
have emerged as the leading contenders. DVD-RAM offers less capacity,
2.6GB, than the 3GB DVD+RW format, but it is the only format that is
currently available in stores.