CD-ReWritable Market Growth Exceeds Industry Expectations

On March 20, at the CeBIT '98 convention in Hanover, Germany, several leading manufacturers of CD-ReWritable (CD-RW) drives and media announced that the market for CD-RW products has grown much faster than originally predicted.

The announcement was made at a joint event hosted by Hewlett-Packard, Mitsubishi, Philips, Ricoh, Sony, and Yamaha. Mikel Dodd, Chairman and CEO of Philips Optical Storage, attributed the rapid acceptance of CD-RW to improving software and hardware solutions, decreasing price points, and the increasing need for off-line storage and data interchange created by the latest PC applications.

Worldwide, the CD-RW market is projected to exceed 15 million units in 1999. Industry projections put worldwide shipments of CD-R and CD-RW drives this year at more than 6 million units, up from 2 million in 1997 and 1 million in 1996. The products first began shipping last May.

At CeBIT '98, leading software vendors including Adaptec, Cakewalk, CeQuadrat, Corel, LivePix, MGI, and Seagate Software displayed a diverse range of CD-RW technologies, including: "drag and drop" file handling to move data to and from a Compact Disc; software packages to create audio CDs, graphic design projects, videos, and digital photo albums; and applications to back up hard-disk data files.

"Since the introduction of CD-RW drives and media in Europe and the United States, PC industry and end-user demand has exceeded all expectations," Dodd said. "As an industry, we believe the reasons for the overwhelming market growth of CD-RW are clear: CD-RW is the perfect product for compatible information storage and data sharing. It is a proven technology that offers an affordable solution to the removable storage requirements of many new and exciting PC applications."

Among the numerous storage technologies available today, only the CD format can claim a worldwide installed base of more than 200 million CD-ROM drives and over 600 million consumer CD players. CD-RW drives can create discs that are compatible with this entire installed base of CD readers, as well as with recent DVD equipment.

"It should be emphasized that these results are largely based on an industry-wide commitment to maintain compatibility of CD-RW with current and future formats," said Tadatoshi Sakamaki of Ricoh. "Compatibility is a fundamental market requirement, and therefore holds the key to future growth and success."

CD-RW drives today are available in a number of configurations designed for mass-market use, and provide backward and forward compatibility with existing CD and future DVD platforms. "We believe there is a market for CD-RW drives that can read DVD-ROM discs, and we expect that such a product will be available in the future," said Sony's Dr. Toru Takeda.