Kihei: To DVD or Not to DVD

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

DVD, or Digital Versatile Disk, was supposed to be the next “big thing” in 1996-1997. While it took some time to build up steam and momentum, we’re at the point now where DVD set-top boxes are becoming more common and DVD-ROM drives being more of a standard feature on personal computers. In the last two years, 30 million DVD-ROM discs were sold worldwide.

“Okay, okay, enough with the background information. What does it have to do with the iMac? Will the next iMac be DVD-equipped?”

That’s an interesting question that leads to another interesting question, “why does the iMac have to have DVD? Is it a necessity?” Here’s several reasons why the next iMac should not have DVD:

  • There is virtually no Macintosh software on DVD-ROM. Virtually none. Maybe besides some software compendium and probably some digitized street map of the United States. There are DVD movies, but it’s not practical to huddle around a 15″ screen and watch DVD movies.
  • The iMac continues to sell well without DVD drives anyway. “Adding DVD increases cost and some within Apple think that the price they would need to sell it for would make it too expensive,” said one source.
  • It’s overkill for a consumer desktop. Is DVD an absolute necessity? Absolutely not for a consumer desktop.

Okay, here are several reasons why the next iMac should be DVD-equipped:

  • It’s the “next big thing” now. Apple was one of the first, if not the first, computer companies to standardize on shipping SCSI, CD-ROM drives, and mice on every machine. Recently, Apple has standardized on USB and is moving towards making FireWire and AGP also standard. Why not pioneer “DVD standard on all machines” too?
  • DVD hardware prices are fairly reasonable now and dropping. They actually are on the Wintel side where one can have an OEM DVD drive for under US$100.
  • It’s another way to separate the iMac from the latest wave of near-free PCs and iMac clones. Saying “DVD onboard” out loud is enough to turn a few heads on the computer store showfloor. Consumers looking at those iMac clones might feel compelled to pay the extra price of an iMac, or at least think twice about it, to get “the next big thing.”
  • True, there’s no Macintosh DVD-ROMs out there but it’s just the “chicken and the egg” law. There’s no chicken without the egg and vice versa. If Y2K doesn’t wipe us out, there will be a market for Macintosh DVD-ROMs someday. Look at what happened with USB…

The current rumor is that there is a DVD-equipped (with DVD-video playback) iMac prototype in Cupertino but it’s just a prototype. There has been a lot of radio silence in Cupertino lately over the next iMac’s featureset. Stay tuned for all of the latest.

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