When will all the hype become reality? That's the question several proprietary molders of compact discs and accessories asked me about the new Digital Versatile Disc format at the recent Replitech '96 conference in San Jose, Calif. For the past two years, we have been hearing about DVD at various industry get-togethers, such as the International Recording Media Association's annual meeting, and Replitech.
And, for the past two years, the industry press has written about the inevitability of DVD -the latest and greatest format for viewing full-length feature movies on a disc the size of a music CD.
But it's still not here.
Although some industry people who are supposedly ``in the know'' say DVD will be here by Christmas, it's tough to find a CD manufacturer willing to bet his or her life's savings on it. After all, it's one thing to be ready for something that's new and yet unproven in the consumer market, and quite something else to stop the CD presses to actually dedicate production to DVD.
The watchword for the industry is caution. No one wants to be caught completely geared up to produce DVDs at the expense of CD production. Yet, no one wants to be caught off-guard should DVD suddenly be ready to hit the market.
Equipment manufacturers want to make DVD production as simple as adding a single step to the CD production line.
Resin producers are busy developing material suitable for molding the incredibly thin, highly sensitive substrates.
Packaging manufacturers have begun putting designs on the drawing board for new tooling to mold DVD cases and jewel boxes.
No one wants to be caught short if DVD should come out of the shoot running at Christmas. But no one wants to watch millions of dollars in investments in molding machines, downstream equipment and molds go down the drain if DVD goes the way of the Beta tape format.
It all boils down to consumers, and they're a hard lot to predict. All the research says consumers will love DVD. So when will the hype become reality?
Once questions about industry standards are answered and all the kinks common to introducing a new format get ironed out, maybe then we'll have DVD.
Until then, (Christmas of 1996? 1997?) it's anybody's guess.