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Ricoh to adopt Sony DVD format

Ricoh is developing a storage system that will use a new method for recordable DVD.

Ricoh is developing a large-capacity storage system that will use a new method for recordable DVD, signaling that the market for such drives might splinter into two camps with incompatible technologies.

Ricoh is planning to produce a recordable DVD drive by 2001 that could store 4.7GB of information. The company says it will join Sony, Philips Electronics and Hewlett-Packard (HWP) in using a new recordable DVD storage technology, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.

The new technology will compete with the DVD-RAM format previously agreed upon by an industry consortium. DVD-RAM drives would allow users to both record and read data, while DVD-ROM technology only permits the reading, or playback, of data.

The apparent lack of a standard for recordable DVD won't affect agreements on any other DVD formats, including DVD-ROM, but having two incompatible formats isn't good news for the market because users could become confused, Tom O'Reilly, editor and senior analyst for the DVD Report, said in an earlier interview.

Sony revealed earlier this week that the company has no intention of developing products for DVD-RAM, the format it had worked on with other major electronic equipment makers, including Matsushita Electric, Toshiba, and Hitachi.

The move might allow Sony and Philips to gather more royalties on patents on the technology if it becomes a market standard. If they were to sell DVD-RAM drives, the ten companies in the industry consortium would share royalties.