CD Recorders Fastest-Growing Category in Audio

More than a million CD recorders have been sold in the last 21 months, making the category one of the most rapidly developing segments in the history of the consumer electronics industry. The news was delivered by Philips executives at the end of August at the IFA trade and consumer exhibition in Berlin, Germany.

Two years ago, only a relative handful of recorders from a few makers were available to consumers. Philips, Marantz, and Pioneer were the first manufacturers to sell such products. But by June of this year, the category had exceeded the million-unit mark. Now at least 15 companies are producing or have announced plans to produce the machines, including Onkyo (see related story), Denon, Kenwood, Harman/Kardon, TEAC, and Yamaha. Makers of blank discs include EMTEC (BASF), Kodak, Maxell, Mitsui, TDK, and Verbatim. All these companies are investing heavily in a phenomenon that may spill over into other areas of the audio industry. People have always loved to make compilations of their favorite music, and providing them with an easy way to do so is what propelled the cassette deck to absolute dominance in the 1980s.

The presence of several heavyweight hardware makers in the CD recorder market is expected to drive it to further growth. BusinessWire predicts that more than three million of the devices will be in consumers' homes by Christmas 2000. As more manufacturers enter the fray, prices will begin to drop, encouraging more sales. This could be the key to resurgence that the industry has been looking for.

Despite new developments like SACD and DVD-Audio, the CD as we know it isn't going away any time soon. More than 800 million CD players are in use throughout the world—as are over 1 billion cassette decks. The popularity of the little silver disc continues to grow, despite the constant carping of vinyl-loving romantic revivalists. Philips Audio Group executive Guy Demuynck believes the recorder phenomenon will ensure the persistence of CD as the format of choice for most music fans. "Since all audio CD players are capable of playing recordings made on an audio CD recorder," he says, "the tremendous growth figures for audio CD-R clearly indicate that consumers around the world are continuing to endorse the CD as their favorite music carrier."