Conference: DVD Will Take Center Stage in Near Future

CD is the dominant software medium today, but DVD will gradually replace it, according to panelists at the DVD-Audio Forum conference last week at the Hyatt Regency Hotel near the San Francisco airport. Higher storage capacity and greater versatility, including multichannel audio, mean greater value for consumers. The panel also predicted that the popularity of DVD-ROM will grow exponentially in the next three years, and the use of DVD-RAM---recordable media-----will easily triple within that period. Computers equipped with DVD "burners" are already on the market.

But the proliferation of diverse DVD formats---DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW---could induce confusion and cause an anti-DVD backlash if the electronics industry isn't careful to ensure cross-platform compatibility. Such compatibility among all the members of the DVD family is a primary goal of the format's Working Groups, who have been pursuing it since DVD's inception.

DVD is envisioned as the heart of information and entertainment systems in the near future. The silver discs will be used for everything from navigation aids for automobiles to electronic banking to business presentations to video recording. Yes, DVD video recording is coming, once the movie and TV industries find some way to prevent uncontrolled, widespread piracy.

Warner Home Video's irrepressible Warren Lieberfarb had plenty to say on this subject in Friday's keynote address. He noted that the film industry has a long history of perceiving new developments as threats rather than opportunities. To illustrate, he pointed out that Hollywood opposed drive-in movies, television, and the video cassette recorder as perils to its control of distribution. But every new development that the entertainment industry opposed eventually became a significant source of revenue. There is no reason to believe DVD will be any different, Lieberfarb said, encouraging the industry to embrace it.

The exact manner in which DVD becomes the center of fully integrated information and entertainment systems---including automated kitchen management with karaoke option, according to some presenters---is completely in the hands of individual consumers. We'll be able to configure systems in many different ways for many different purposes. If what we heard and saw at this conference is any real indicator of the future, DVD in any form will offer amazingly high fidelity.