DVD CD recordable as Mac BTO? Not before mid-April
By Brad Gibson
With word that Pioneer New Media Technologies Inc. will be shipping initial orders of its
Pioneer DVR-103 recordable DVD/CD drive by the end of February, manufacturing and distribution experts believe that if Apple were to offer the drive to customers, it would probably be as a built-to-order option only because of its high price and limited availability until April.
Pioneer publicly announced Thursday that Compaq would be the its first original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partner to ship the DVD CD recordable drive in its Presario 7000 PC. Sources tell MacCentral the drive will be a BTO option only from Compaq.
Pioneer’s DVR-103 drive, similar to the one shown in this story, reads and writes several CD and DVD recordable formats including CD-R, CD-RW and DVD-R which offers up to 4.7GB of storage capacity on a single sided DVD disc and is now at 2X recording speed. It will retail for around US$995.
Pioneer drive Mac bound?
Of importance to Macintosh users interested in the technology, Pioneer confirmed Thursday to MacCentral that the drive is not yet in production, but will available to its OEM partners for inclusion in new products “by the end of February,” according to Andy Parsons, senior vice president of product development and technical support at Pioneer New Media.
Parsons would neither confirm nor deny speculation that Apple is one of its OEM partners who could be incorporating the drive into Macintosh products. “We have several more OEM partners other than Compaq, but I’m not at liberty to say who they are,” Parsons commented. “We are leaving that up to each individual partner to announce when they see fit.”
Parsons would not say how many of the drives will be produced in the February/March timeframe, but said the company is trying to meet demand.
Drive availability questionable
Experts in manufacturing and distribution tell MacCentral that if Apple were to offer the Pioneer DVD/CD R drive and if the drive became available to Apple in mass quantities shortly after March 1, customers would probably not be able to get their hands on one until mid-April at the earliest.
“And that’s a big ‘if’,” said Eric Moorehead, a former manufacturing and distribution manager for IBM, now based in Omaha, Neb. “The drive has to be available to Apple in large quantities of I’d say at least a thousand and then Apple has to put the drive in Macs, quality control each Mac, inventory and ship the product. There is a lot that has to happen.”
Moorehead said there are so many parts to adding a component to a product before customers put it on their desks that to safely offer the product in any substantial quantity requires at least 30 days or more.
“There’s so much that could go wrong,” he said. “From shipping delays of the product to Apple, to production problems, to shipping problems to the distributors and dealers. Consumers don’t have a clue how things can break down in the production and distribution cycle.”
A source, which asked not to be identified, told MacCentral Friday that based on the price of the Pioneer DVD/CD R drive, Apple would probably opt to offer the product as a BTO option only, at least to begin with, until prices come down and availability lightens up.
“While it sounds like a neat product, its price will limit its market for the time being,” the source said. “That why I think it makes more sense to offer it as a BTO product.”
DVD/CD R prices to fall further
While its $995 price tag seems high, Parsons said the price of its DVD/CD R drives has been dropping quickly since its debut in 1998 when its first model cost $17,000. In mid-1999, the same drive retailed for $5,400.
“As you can see, we’ve been able to get prices down pretty substantially and I would imagine they will continue to fall over the next few years as demand increases.”
Parsons is optimistic DVD/CD R is the future of optical storage because of not only its ability to burn DVD’s that can be read in almost any CD device, but because blank media prices will start to fall quickly from their current $10-$15 range as demand increases.