DVD burners look to be big holiday sellers:
- This holiday season, electronics companies and computer makers hope DVD “burners,” or recorders, will become a hot new product, following the success of compact-disc burners in recent years. Another industry, the movie business, has reason to dread the same prospect.
THE RISING POPULARITY of the devices, which enable consumers to make their own digital videodiscs, is raising the anxiety level of the motion-picture industry. The studios are aiming to avoid what has happened in the music industry since CD burners started being snapped up by even the least tech-savvy consumers. Record labels blame the burners for the recent drop in album sales, because the devices allow music fans to easily create their own compact discs using songs copied from CDs or downloaded from the Internet.
Now, film studios fear that DVD burners could do the same thing for movies, which are increasingly available through renegade Internet peer-to-peer services that allow users to freely trade movies and music. Indeed, a small company called 321 Studios says it soon plans to roll out software that will allow consumers to copy movie DVDs onto blank DVDs.
The movie studios must move to “disallow happening what is so plainly and perilously happening to the music industry,” says Jack Valenti, chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Until recently, DVD burners appealed only to a narrow, high-tech audience. That is now changing, and it is likely to accelerate with the holiday season. World-wide shipments of DVD burners totaled slightly more than 300,000 in 1999, according to technology research firm International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass. This year, the firm projects 4.32 million, with the numbers mounting even faster in the coming few years.
The main reason is that as more companies have rolled out products, the price of new DVD recorders and blank DVDs has dropped sharply. Pioneer Corp.’s Pioneer Electronics, which makes the DVD-burning SuperDrive offered with Apple Computer Inc.’s computers, says the speed of its computer-DVD burner has grown, even as the prices for certain versions dropped from around $1,000 in early 2001 to a $299 edition due in November. DVD burners that hook up to televisions and burn copies of TV shows, much like VCRs, have dropped from around $1,600 in 2000 to $700 today, according to IDC.
How is this any different from videocassette recorders? I believe the film industry has survived them, and cable, and home popcorn sales.