FERNANDINA BEACH, FLA. — Manufacturing of digital versatile discs has advanced rapidly, but more progress is needed.
``The next big step for DVD is a complete, basic redesign of the mold'' for 0.6-millimeter discs, said Richard C. Marquardt Jr., senior vice president and general manager of Warner Advanced Media Operations' manufacturing group in Olyphant, Pa.
Some replicators modify expensive compact-disc molds on their shelves to DVD requirements, but may lose efficiency. What is needed is ``a big jump'' for DVD technology, Marquardt said at the International Recording Media Association's executive forum, held March 10-14 at Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island.
In the third quarter of 1999, WAMO will offer expanded DVD formats using a proprietary surface-transfer process.
DVD-14/DVD-18 will add disc capacity beyond that of the 1997-era DVD-9.
``We are already seeing the need for more information,'' said Bill Mueller, WAMO vice president of operations. ``Half of our DVD-9 titles already use 90 percent of the disc.''
A DVD-18 marries two 0.6mm, dual-layered DVD-9 discs, and the DVD-14 combines a DVD-9 and a DVD-5. The first DVD players reached the U.S. market about two years ago.
``We will probably see 2 million sold this year, to a total of 3 million'' in the United States, said Steven Nickerson, vice president of marketing with Toshiba America Consumer Products Inc. in Wayne, N.J.
Consumers appear to accept DVDs in various packaging styles.
``We found there was no problem or concern for a uniform package,'' said William Sondheim, president of Universal Studios' newly acquired PolyGram Video USA unit in New York. ``We got the sizing right, whether it is paper-based or plastic-coated.''
Gateway Inc. announced it will offer a bundle of DVD-dedicated software with certain personal computers beginning in mid- or late April. A customer can pick four action, simulation or role-playing games for $99, about one-half of the regular retail pricing, said David Obelcz, product manager for consumer software with Gateway in North Sioux City, S.D.
``DVD is off and running, and nothing is going to stop it,'' he said.
Conference attendees spent little time discussing Divx, a controversial DVD-derivative.
Divx is ``no different to make'' than a standard DVD, said Lyndon Faulkner, president and chief executive officer of Nimbus CD International of Ruckersville, Va. Divx is a customer of Nimbus, an operation of Carlton Communications plc's Technicolor division.
One million copies of Divx software were sold from Sept. 22-Feb. 21. Circuit City Stores Inc. of Richmond, Va., and a Los Angeles entertainment law firm are partners in Divx promotor Digital Video Express LP of Herndon, Va.