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TK's MORNING BUZZ: The Hype Surrounding Recordable DVD at This Year's Comdex Is Well Deserved, If Not a Little Premature

13 Nov, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Recordable DVD appears to be generating the most buzz at this year's Comdexconvention, the huge computer show now playing in Las Vegas. A sampling of headlines that came across the wire services today:

-- Recordable DVD Poised for Explosive Growth Through 2005
-- Recordable DVD Will Speed Consumer Electronics/PC Convergence
-- Industry Support for DVD+RW Grows as Products Hit Retail Shelves Worldwide
-- Sony Launches Suite of DVD-RW and +RW Recordable Discs
-- Recordable DVD Council Explains Support for All 3 DVD Forum-Approved Recordable DVD Formats
-- HP Introduces World's First Retail PC with DVD+RW Technology for Easy DVDRecording
-- Vivastar(R) Announces U.S. Launch Of Proprietary DVD Recorder Line atComdex Fall 2001

That's only a sample. But I can remember a similar thunder-roll of press coming from another trade show not long ago -- the 1997 Consumer Electronics Show -- about DVD, two months before the format's official launch.

I'm not saying that recordable DVD is on the verge of a major breakthrough.We've seen three-ring hype before, for such failed technologies as CD-I and 3DO (who can forget 3DO founder Trip Hawkins' appearance at the summer 1993 CES in Chicago? It was like the Second Coming of Christ).

But I do believe that ultimately recordable DVD will triumph in a very bigway -- and that all this hype is well-deserved, if not a little premature.

Still, several things have to happen before we can kiss videotape good bye:

1) Prices for recordable DVD still have to come down -- we just cracked the $1,000 mark, but for mass market success machines will have to sell for $350 or even less.

2) We need camcorders that record directly onto disc, something that is unlikely to happen soon. We've still got competing brands of tape format (8 millimeter versus those little cassettes that fit inside a VHS shell), whilethe big rage appears to be digital video.

3) The household penetration rate has to hit 50%. Only after that point will there be a solid base of potential consumers for recordable DVD products, and once these consumers dump their tape-based camcorders for disc-based systems, conquering the remaining 50% will be relatively easy.

That's how I see things. The buzz at Comdex isn't so much about what's happening now as it is about what's going to happen. We're just going to have to wait and see.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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