DVD: the new saviour of the PC industry?

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DVD could be the key driver in hauling PC makers from the Slough of Despond.

It certainly has the potential to prop up "sluggish PC and chip industries", according to Pioneer Electronics and its research partner IDC. Already the fastest growing technology ever, consumers are now ready to embrace DVD recording and home video editing, they say.

And that means punters will have to buy more powerful PCs, with fat hard drives and good graphics, giving lie to gloom merchants who says that PC penetration is saturated, certainly in North America. Bigger boxes means higher ASPs (average selling prices), or at worst, prices declining more slowly than would otherwise be the case.

IDC maps out its conclusions in a study Consumer Demand and the Emerging Markets for Recordable DVD
digital videos

According to IDC, two obstacles stand in the way of DVD sales: consumer education and the DVD rewritable format war.

To overcome the first obstacle, manufacturers need to treat DVD as a video standard, not as a storage device, and market accordingly, IDC recommends.

And on the second, them makers need to get their act together over DVD-R/RW, DVD-RAM and +R/RW - it's exhausting just writing this.

Says Wolfgang Schlichting, chief DVD analyst at IDC: "Confusion over format compatibility is sending shock waves to potential buyers -- consumers, PC buyers and OEMs - and that is resulting in lower rates of acceptance in the PC world. Standards confusion will continue to make market conditions challenging for all players. Consumers need assurances about DVD compatibility and education about how to maximize the potential of DVD technology."

It'll take some time, but both obstacles will surely be overcome. The same cannot be said about Palladium and sundry digital rights management (DRM) technologies. If the manufacturers are forced to hobble their DVD players, or the copyright producers succeed in limiting use of DVD software, then consumers will lose interest in using DVD rewriting technologies on their PCs.

DVD recording will act as a fillip to consumer PC sales. But when? The retail PC sector is in the doldrums and consumers show little sign of returning. Even the cheap brick notebooks, the one bright spot in the sector, is losing its lustre lately.

To us the Pioneer/IDC pitch looks like the latest in a long line of magic bullets, joining wireless connectivity, LCD screens, broadband access, ever faster chips, incredible graphics, digital entertainment hubs, all touted as miracle cures for the PC Industry Near Death Experience. ®

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