There is a format war going on in the rewritable digital versatile disc (DVD) arena, and that's making it tough for DVD to blast off in the business market.
Movies, video games and software distribution are among the uses for this technology. But without the ability to erase and rewrite information, DVD is limited to static content publishing.
Rewritable DVD, on the other hand, can handle more business-related tasks, including system-level backup, desktop publishing, network-accessible storage and system-to-system data exchange.
Analysts say rewritable DVD holds promise as a high-capacity replacement for removable storage media such as floppy disks, CDs and Zip disks from Iomega.
The main players in the highly contentious rewritable DVD market generally fall into two format camps: DVD-RAM and DVD+RW. DVD-RAM can store 2.6GB of data on single-sided discs or 5.2GB on double-sided discs.
DVD-RAM drives from Hitachi have been shipping since April. Other manufacturers expected to ship DVD-RAM drives this quarter include Toshiba America Information Systems and Matsushita Electric.
DVD+RW products aren't due until late this year. They are expected to hold 3GB of data per side. Vendors in that market will include Hewlett-Packard, Philips and Sony.
Both DVD-RAM and DVD+RW drives can read audio CDs, CD-ROMs, CD-R (recordable) discs, CD-RW (rewritable) discs and DVD-ROM discs.
But there's a catch: a disc created by a DVD-RAM drive won't work in a DVD+RW drive and vice versa. And many of today's DVD-ROM (non-rewritable) drives aren't guaranteed to read discs mastered in the rewritable formats of DVD-RAM or DVD+RW.
Those incompatibilities mean that if a user adopts one standard and that standard fails, the user's DVD investment is threatened.