- Set to roll out in September with eight titles in four markets, Disney’s new EZ-D DVD self-destructs 48 hours after the purchaser opens the special airtight package. The disc is composed of a Lexan resin co-polymer developed by GE Plastics. The General Electric Company owns a minority stake in Flexplay Technologies, the company that owns the underlying process and has licensed it to Disney.
Once the product is exposed to the elements, a chemical clock starts ticking, turning the disc black and making it unreadable by a DVD player’s laser after the designated time has elapsed. Until that happens, the disc can be played as often as desired. Employing a chemical rather than software process to disable the disc is meant to ensure that the process will work with any DVD player. And like any standard DVD, the discs can have software copyright protection that would deter a user from copying them onto the hard drive of a computer or onto a blank DVD that would not self-destruct.
Disney hopes that the purchase price of $5 to $7 will be close enough to the cost of a typical DVD rental that many customers will consider it an easy impulse buy.
….There is nothing magical about the 48-hour life span of the disc. The manufacturing process can be adjusted so that the disc will expire anywhere from 8 to 60 hours after opening the wrapper. And enterprising consumers may find that they can extend the life even further. Staff members of New Scientist, a British publication, were able to slow down the chemical process and keep an opened EZ-D disc in a playable state for at least 96 hours by placing it in a sealed container and storing it in the refrigerator.
….Blockbuster is not threatened by the introduction of EZ-D’s. “We don’t see it going anywhere,” said Karen Raskopf, the company’s senior vice president for corporate communications. “Customers can now buy a used DVD from us that plays forever and costs just a few dollars more than an EZ-D.”
….If the EZ-D disc is a success, its detractors say, expect to see an environmental mess, as millions of now useless discs clog the landfills with nonbiodegradable polymers. To counter these concerns, Flexplay has agreed to a partnership with a national recycler to collect used discs.
Even if the discs are not recycled, single-use disposable DVD’s will result in net energy savings, according to a study conducted by Jonathan Koomey, staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “The solid waste impacts may be more than completely offset by the gasoline saved from avoided trips to the video store. Gasoline savings could be 7.5 to 20 times larger than the increase in solid waste,” Mr. Koomey said in an e-mail message. [NY Times]
Talk about planned obsolescence. I think the $5-7 price is too high for the kind of impulse buying they are looking for: $4 each or three-for-$10 would be more in line with rental costs, which is what they are up against. We shall see.