Most stores would agree the hottest selling single item in computer retailing at the moment is CD-R media blank disks. Along with printer consumables, the product is also driving the industry's push into frontier outlets such as newsagents, supermarkets and service stations.
US-based analysts have predicted that CD-R shipments will total over one billion units in 1999. While there are obvious archive, back-up and data exchange applications for CD-R technology, few would disagree that the blank disks are also being used to illegally copy software.
The jury is still out on whether this is affecting retail software sales.
Kodak's latest step forward in CD-R's evolutionary march - called Infoguard PCL disks - won't help in stamping out piracy, but a new recording layer, or dye, and a real gold reflective layer extend storage life and compatibility with CD readers and writers.
All production of the previous disks has ceased and distributors should already have stocks of the new ones.
Rowan Lawson, Asia-Pacific product marketing manager for Kodak, said the new technology is the result of five years R&D aimed at ensuring anyone with a CD drive has the capability to read all data recorded on Kodak CD-R media.
Demand is only going to increase for CD-R media as more external "burners" are sold while the major vendors are already starting to include them as options or in their top-end models, Lawson said. For that reason, the retail channel is expanding exponentially.
"People will be looking to buy these as a convenience," Lawson said. "Like batteries, they will be available everywhere, but the majority of sales are still coming from computer retailers."
Lawson also said there were moves to raise royalties on CD-R and CD-RW media sales to compensate software developers for piracy.
The increasing volume of CD-R media sales introduces new economies of scale in manufacturing and has allowed Kodak to debut the Infoguard PCL product without a price rise.
Therefore, retailers should make sure they receive the latest model CD-R media disks when ordering.
Kodak has set the "expected street price" for the disks at $3.20.