Five years ago: First DVD drives mean business

DVD is still likely to be making a splash in the commercial market this year, despite delays for consumer-oriented products that will push them back into 1997.

Hitachi said today that it still plans to release DVD drives to PC OEMs by year-end, saying that the roadblocks faced by Sony, Philips and others in home user systems will not apply to drives targeting the replacement CD-ROM and magneto-optical market in business. Hitachi's GD-1000 will be a plug-compatible CD-ROM drive replacement targeted at PC makers and possibly the aftermarket. No pricing is available as yet.

"Sony and Philips are much more interested in the home," said Peter Scatchard, European marketing manager for information equipment at Hitachi. "I'm not interested in set-top boxes or VCR. I'm interested in DVD as a PC component so I don't have to worry about things like copy protection routines. All the expectation was that consumer DVD would be first, but the way Hollywood is dragging its feet, people are quickly revising that expectation. I'm hoping to see a reasonable quantity of DVD drives from us in the November time-frame."

However, Scatchard said he doesn't expect DVD to instantly surge past CD-ROM. "CD-ROM is going to continue for another 12-24 months and after that DVD will make very fast inroads into the CD-ROM drive market. In the third or fourth quarter of 1997, rewriteable DVD will sound the death knell for CD-ROM. CD is a 16-year-old technology but DVD will be nothing like as hard a sell and developers already working very hard at DVD authoring." Scatchard said he expects initial sales to go into companies using space-hungry applications such as technical help documentation.

Separately, Hitachi said it plans to market an IDE-hosted 12-speed CD-ROM drive by November, with new technology that will provide the equivalent of 16-speed performance at data transfer rates up to 2,400Kbps.

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