Late this week, a consortium of media and disc drive manufacturers will jointly announce an agreement to produce CD-Rewritable (CD-RW) drives and media that will begin shipping in early 1997. Sources familiar with the announcement say that Philips, which holds many of the patents for erasable CDs, will manufacture the drive for resale by Hewlett-Packard, one of Philips' largest customers for CD-Recordable (CD-R) drives. Ricoh and Sony will market the CD-RW drive under their logos, and Sony may also produce the media along with Mitsubishi.
Although no price has been set, it will be introduced at a price similar to that of CD-R drive pricing, which is between US$600 and US$995, according to a source familiar with the product. However, the media's cost will be higher than CD-R discs. "The CD-erasable media will be significantly more expensive than the current pricing of CD-R discs of US$10 to US$15," says Bob Katzive, vice-president at Disk Trend, in Mountain View, California.
The price may be only one of many roadblocks to corporate acceptance. "Current CD-ROM drives will be unable to read the CD-RW media due to the lower reflectivity requirements of the new media," says Hal Glatzer, the editor of Storage Systems Today, in New York.
This will prevent data stored on CD-RW discs from being distributed and read across the enterprise by systems with older drives, "unless you bought a CD-ROM drive manufactured some time after April," Glatzer says. "During that time, Philips included a chip set that will make the new erasable media readable on CD-ROM drives," he says.
"The industry was silly not to start putting this capability into CD- ROM drives sooner," Disk Trend's Katzive says. "Why they didn't do it sooner is beyond me."