Europe's online source of news, data & analysis for professionals involved in packaged media and new delivery technologies

News in Brief - november 2006


ACCORDING to Arizona-based analyst firm, InStat, the worldwide DVD recorder market will grow from 20 million units in 2006 to 38 million units in 2008. In terms of overall digital media products, such as advanced DVD recorders, high-definition set-top boxes, Blu-ray/HD-DVD players and recorders, integrated digital TVs, and professional content creation and broadcast infrastructure devices are expected to reach $36 billion in 2010, according to InStat.

A TEAM from China’s Qingdao University of Science and Technology, have synthesised metal cluster complexes capable of absorbing two photons simultaneously in an excited state. Materials with this property can be used to make precise laser beams. It makes it possible the reading of multiple closely-spaced layers stacked one on top of the other thus allowing more storage space on each disc.

DVD Jon, who made himself famous by hacking encrypted DVDs at the age of 15, has reverse-engineered Apple's Fairplay and is starting to license it to companies who want their media to play on Apple's devices, reports GigaOM. Instead of breaking the DRM (something he's already done), Jon has replicated it, and wants to license the technology to companies that want their content (music, movies, whatever) to play on Apple devices. This may not be good news for iTunes the store, but it could make the iPod even more popular.

DIGITAL set-top box revenues from the Chinese market increased by an estimated 77 per cent in 2005, according to a new report published by IMS Research. The digital set-top box revenues (excluding export revenues) were estimated at approximately $234 million. The revenues are forecast to grow strongly and to reach about $893 million in 2010. This growth is primarily attributed to the digital cable set-top box market in China. In 2005, revenues from this segment were estimated to achieve a 180 per cent growth over 2004.

ACCORDING to Strategy Analytics’ latest estimates, the global base of broadband users now stands at over 235 million homes, and is expected to rise to approach 450 million by 2010. In Europe and the United States, the majority of households will have broadband access by the end of the decade with overall penetration rates reaching more than 60% and more than 70% respectively.

THE TELEVISION arm of Sony Pictures has set up a direct-to=DVD division branded Culver Entertainment. The latter will concentrate on developing series programming primarily for release direct to DVD, although content may be sold on to TV networks subsequently and made available vis digital distributors. A new Spider-Man series will be among the first releases from Culver. Thirteen episodes are scheduled for launch on DVD in 2007.

TDK has followed Samsung and launched a hard drive replacement based on NAND Flash memory. The product, which is currently available in sample quantities, was announced by the company last week. The 32GB unit hooks up to the host across a standard IDE connector, but it's about 80 per cent of the size of a standard 2.5in notebook drive - the part's an obvious choice for battery powered systems since it consumes less power than a standard HDD. The unit's controller supports data transfer rates of up to 33.3MBps, the manufacturer said. Samung launched its 32GB Flash-based "solid-state disk" in March this year. It's pitching the technology as a both a faster and a lower power system than traditional HDD technology. TDK said it was sampling the drive to storage companies. There's no indication when the part will ship commercially - or how much it's likely to cost.

A SINGLE-SIDED, three-layer ROM disc supporting storage and playback of both DVD and HD DVD formats has been jointly developed by Memory-Tech and Toshiba. The new disc’s three-layer structure can contain either two HD DVD layers and one DVD layer (30GB plus 4.7 GB) or one HD DVD layer and two DVD layers (15GB plus 8.5 GB). The new format is the latest version of the DVD/HD DVD TWIN format. Because it supports both standards, users can play the standard definition DVD content on their existing equipment, and then enjoy the high definition content on the same disc once they have bought an HD DVD player or drive. Memory-Tech and Toshiba originally proposed the dual-layer TWIN format to the DVD Forum in 2004 as a transitional format. It has been adopted as part of the HD DVD specifications. The two companies will also propose the new disc to the DVD Forum.

OPTICAL disc manufacturer Denon Digital of Madison, Georgia, USA has been acquired by Americ Disc. The acquisition gives the new owner a fourth facility in North America, in addition to its centres in Quebec, Minnesota and North Carolina. Claude Raymond, president of Americ Disc, described this transaction as “a decision to increase our market share within the independent producers segment and to leverage our competitive position in order to ensure continued development of our products and services.” Denon Digital’s parent company Columbia Music Entertainment had previously announced its intention to divest its US CD and DVD manufacturing operation, following the sale of its Japanese replication business.

DISNEY has sold 125,000 online film downloads a week after agreeing to make its titles available on Apple’s iTunes store. The sales have added about $1m in incremental revenue to the media company, according to chief executive Bob Iger, who expressed confidence that revenues from the new film venture could reach $50m in its first year. Disney broke with other Hollywood studios when it agreed to make 75 titles available on iTunes at prices ranging from $9.99 to $14.99. Other Hollywood studios have also talked about ramping up digital distribution but have taken a slower approach so far - partly out of fear of antagonising Wal-Mart, who they rely on as the largest seller of DVDs.

ALTOUGH several leading global brands have already launched or will soon offer 18x DVD burners, CMC Magnetics and Ritek, Taiwan's top two makers of optical discs, currently produce 18x DVD+R/-R discs only in limited volumes and the supply may fall significantly short of global demand, according to industry sources. The sources indicated that 18x DVD burners may begin to replace 16x models to become the mainstream DVD burner next quarter. However, the global supply of 18x DVD+R/-R discs appear to be lagging. Because of relatively high prices, 18x DVD+R/-R discs will not become popular until 2007.

IT has been revealed today that the new HD-DVD drive that is to be released for the Xbox 360 will most likely cost £199 when it is released in the UK. Gamesindustry.biz cites it’s “retail sources” as confirmation, and they also expect a bundle to be released that will include both the drive and the Xbox 360. The expected price for this bundle is to be £400 – which is considerably lower than the PS3 when it eventually stumbles into Europe. Two HD-DVD movies are expected to be bundled too.