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Home Entertainment Technology Parade Continues

27 Jun, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik

Technology innovation and enhancements in home entertainment in this digital era continue at a rapid pace. Some may negatively impact home entertainment software retailers, others may be a positive.

In this week's issue of Video Store Magazine, we cover two such technologies: one being the DualDisc format (DVD on one side, CD on the other), recently given a thumbs up by the DVD Forum, the other the emerging handheld video players being developed by a broad range of consumer electronics companies.

Certainly, the DualDisc format offers an opportunity for both home video and music retailers. Music DVD and the marrying of CD with DVD in two-disc sets is a growth category for retailers. Literally melding the two on one disc is seen as a completely natural new format that will appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers coming into both video and music stores. Is it any wonder NARM and the VSDA are in talks to explore ways of merging the two trade groups? Music is more and more a visual medium, and certainly the music retail business has been quickly building up their video business to offset difficult times in the music business. While music retailers are adopting the video business in a big way, I often wonder why I don't see more video retailers building up bigger music DVD sections in their stores. There is certainly no dearth of product. According to the DVD Release Report, there are almost 3,500 music DVD titles available. I think the time is ripe for video retailers to truly embrace the music DVD business in a significant way.

Meanwhile, as Americans take to the roads this summer, doubtless video retailers are probably seeing parents coming in to stock up on an armful of DVDs for their portable DVD players and car-based video systems as they drive and fly to summer vacations with the kids. “America has begun to embrace mobility,” said Amy Dalphy, manager of hard drives at Toshiba, in this week's article looking at the future for handheld video players. The conversion and compression of video files onto hard-disk drives and other storage platforms is being aggressively pursued by all sort of consumer electronics manufacturers.

The reason? A whole generation of consumers who have grown up text messaging each other on their cell phones, downloading and digitally storing music on their iPods and using PDAs for everything but dry cleaning their clothes are rapidly approaching the beginning of their serious earning and discretionary spending years. Not put off by the small-screen experience, they will be the vanguard for adoption of a handheld video entertainment. The kids now in middle school will doubtless be even more rabid consumers five to seven years from now. By that time, home entertainment retailers may want to stake some sort of position in what may be, by then, the beginning of a significant market. Whether it means offering digital downloads or the hardware itself, there may be opportunities in what looks like a possible threat to packaged media.

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