With price points dropping and DVD formats becoming standardised, the DVD burner is moving into a retail sweet spot. And in addition to sales of boxed product, DVD writers are also carving a niche in PC system sales.
DVD burners are on track to replace CD-burners as standard in PC systems within six months, according to Harvey Norman national product and marketing manager, Paul Schnell.
“DVD is starting to break the barrier,” he said. “In the next six months we’ll start talking about DVD multi-drive,” he said. The drop in price points, as well as the move towards multi-format standards, was driving consumer acceptance of DVD authoring, he said.
“Only in the last couple of months have more vendors been coming to us with multi-format drives. I would suggest in the next quarter or two it will become the standard.”
The incompatibility between various writable formats was a barrier to customer ease of use and while Harvey Norman was still selling systems with DVD +RW and -RW burners, salespeople were careful how they sold the systems to avoid customer confusion, Schnell said.
Pioneer is one multimedia vendor moving towards the new standards. Its current range of DVD writers are all compatible with +R/RW discs.
“Whilst Pioneer is still backing DVD-R/RW as a DVD recording format it is also our desire to simplify the message for the consumer and to remove as much of the potential confusion surrounding this issue as possible,” Pioneer Electronics marketing manager for multimedia, Simon Barlett, said.
“DVD writer sales are whipping along,” he said. “Consumer acceptance becomes more important as prices decrease and DVD writers become more accessible. So we see embracing the two most popular DVD recording formats as the right move.”
“We need to do everything we can to enhance the user’s experience, including bundling the best available software.”
Pioneer most recently released two external DVD writers. One is a half height writer, available now. The laptop drive model will start shipping at the end of the month.
The external DVD writers connected with firewire or USB 2.0, and didn’t support USB 1.0. But the lack of backwards compatibility wouldn’t be a problem, Bartlett said.
With the sort of specifications you would need to be doing serious video editing, most users would have USB 2, Bartlett said.
The transfer rates of USB 1.0 were too slow for video editors.
Rising consumer interest in DVD authoring could also help spur PC sales, according to Schnell. PC sales, becoming “buoyant” as the long-awaited Y2K and GST refresh started to kick in, would be driven by new functionality such as DVD burning.
“Probably in the past couple of years there’s been no reason to upgrade,” he said.
DVD burners, along with cordless peripherals and flatscreen monitors, were the hot items that would drive PC upgrades, Schnell said.
As price points fell on DVD burners, Schell could foresee a sub-$2000 PC with DVD drive, pushing the standard PC with CD-RW down to sub-$1500.
The next challenge for retailers would be differentiating to keep value in the sale, he said.