Local CD plant expects to produce DVD soon

New Zealand's first CD pressing plant produced its first CD at the end of May and expects to be producing the digital versatile (or video) disk (DVD) in about 18 months. Software Images, which is New Zealand owned, has 40 staff at its Ponsonby plant and is expecting to add a further 10 jobs in the next 12 months. For the past five years it has used a plant in Melbourne, Pacific Mirror Images (PMI) to press CDs.

New Zealand's first CD pressing plant produced its first CD at the end of May and expects to be producing the digital versatile (or video) disk (DVD) in about 18 months.

Software Images, which is New Zealand owned, has 40 staff at its Ponsonby plant and is expecting to add a further 10 jobs in the next 12 months. For the past five years it has used a plant in Melbourne, Pacific Mirror Images (PMI) to press CDs.

Marketing and sales manager Andy Blackburn says PMI has made big investments in DVD technology, and is Software Images' strategic and technology partner.

Software Images has been looking at DVD closely and is set up to produce it when the time is right.

"Our system is modular and we have set it up to DVD standard and will be adding a DVD module to it.

"But we've learnt, over the years, that the worst mistake you can make is to be too early with the technology so we'll add DVD when the market is ready for it."

Software Images can presently supply DVD, manufactured through PMI.

"At the moment we work with computer people and with musicians and as soon as DVD comes we'll be able to work with the movie industry. Convergence is actually a reality."

He says that convergence is the reason the plant exists at all. The music and computer industries individually did not have enough volume to sustain a plant in the past, but with CDs for both industries being made the same way, it opened the door for a plant. At present, the production of CDs for music and for software is about half and half.

Blackburn says that's an interesting statistic when compared with the number of CDs imported into New Zealand last year.

"In the last calendar year there were 12 million CDs imported into New Zealand. Nine million of those were music CDs, two million were ROM and the last million were CD writables."

He expects growth in music in the short term, but in ROM in the medium term. That's because the number of CDs is only growing at about 2% or 3% a year, whereas CD-ROM is growing "quite explosively".

"It could even be doubling every year."

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