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Worldwide sales of removable and optical drives will top £10 billion this year, according to DISK/TREND’s latest research. The outlook for the different product groups is mixed, with DVD-ROM drives and writable DVD/CD-ROM formats becoming the major stars. Sales of DVD drives were slow at first because of format uncertainties and high prices, DISK/TREND says. But the market is growing rapidly and shipments are expected to overtake CD ROM drives within two years. This year shipments have reached 92.8 million units. The re-writable drives business is currently enjoying a growth spurt, led by the CD-RW segment. Falling prices and wider availability have boosted its performance in the market, but as with CD-ROM drives, it is set to be overthrown by the emerging DVD format. By 2002, DVD will be the dominant player in this market too. And the humble 1.44Mb floppy? Sales are expected to peak by 2001, followed by a slow decline. High capacity floppies will do better. In 1998, 12.7 million drives were shipped in 1998. By 2002, this is forecast to grow to 34.3 million units. The big losers at the moment are the rigid magnetic disk manufacturers. The limiting size of the market for these products have hit sales hard, and forced many manufacturers out of business. However, the arrival of CompactFlash card formats could reinvigorate this sector. DISK/TREND says opportunities in the mobile market should see shipments increase in the next few years. ®

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