DVD technology now looks set to replace the CD-ROM drive in the Australian IT channel, with at least one of the major manufacturers having completely ceased supplying CD-ROM drives.
According to Dipak Kumar, group manager of Hitachi Australia's Electronics Group: "Apart from some outstanding OEM contracts, Hitachi has ceased manufacturing CD-ROM drives and there is virtually no stock in the Australian channel. We sold out our last CD-ROM drives just prior to Christmas."
Kumar added: "I have know doubt whatsoever that DVD-ROM is going to take over. All of the major manufacturers of CD-ROM drives are developing DVD-ROM products."
Last month, Hitachi Australia announced the availability of its GD-2500BX, a 6x speed inter-nal DVD-ROM drive, and claimed that several local companies will be incorporating it into multimedia kits.
As well as a concerted effort by Hitachi to promote to the larger OEMs, Digiland and Multimedia Technology are distributing the DVD drives, including the new rewritable DVD-RAM drives.
Multimedia Technology marketing manager John Hassall reported that they have seen an uptake of DVD over the last three months, but that the Australian market still needs some "killer applications" to kick the technology along. Hassall said he has been in discussions with Microsoft about the release of Encarta and other titles on DVD and expects some announcements shortly. He added that the growing acceptance of the software MPEG2 decoder is making DVD a more attractive and cost-effective solution.
Digiland MD Laurie Carmichael said he was excited about the potential for the new DVD distribution arrangement with Hitachi, and expected DVD-ROM and RAM drives to be incorporated into Digiland's own GES brand systems.
Kumar said that Hitachi has already shipped a lot of DVD drives around the world, including to most of the major computer manufacturers.
"Over the last few months, the activity of DVD ROM in Australia has taken off and we currently have more orders from local assemblers than we can supply."
He claimed that already, 20 per cent of new desktop PCs built worldwide include a DVD drive. "Most of the professional-level PCs have DVD standard, while commercial PCs often include an option between the latest CD and DVD drives," he said.
In answer to what's driving the demand, Kumar said that it's not just the movie titles - and these are currently limited - but there is a growing feeling that DVD is the way the industry is heading, and users don't want to be caught with superseded technology.