DISKCON: PVRs Will Be Disk Industry Savior

SINGAPORE (03/09/2000) - The new breed of consumer PVRs (personal video recorders) that combine a set-top TV receiver box with storage will be the long-term saviors of the hard-disk drive industry, but the explosion in that market is still a couple of years away, according to John Kim, vice president of data storage market analyst Trend Focus.

"PVRs must have storage, and hard disk drives are the storage medium of choice," he said. "When companies such as TiVo (Inc.) get together with the electronics giants, prices will fall enough to drive the market to the next level."

Last week, TiVo launched its PVR technology in the U.K. under an agreement with British Sky Broadcasting PLC (See "Murdoch's BSkyB Brings Tivo to U.K.," March 1), suggesting that take-off in this market is not far away.

The optimistic view suggests that more than 1 million PVRs will be sold worldwide this year and more than 3 million in 2001, according to Kim. Massive year-on-year growth will then kick in as PVRs make use of volume manufacturing to enable pricing at typical consumer levels. But that scenario could be derailed by high initial PVR prices, poor user-friendliness, and a lack of vision about defining the market and user requirements correctly, Kim said.

Currently, PVRs can store approximately 20 hours of TV programming, with TV at its current definition using about 1G byte per hour. High-Definition TV uses 9G bytes per hour to store programs and will give a tremendous boost to the disk drive industry when it becomes widespread, according to Kim.

Other key sectors in the consumer disk storage market going forward are MP3 audio players, which will soon be accompanies by desktop storage consoles; digital cameras; navigation systems; Internet appliances and mobile phones, Kim said.

"The impact of emerging applications will be felt in late 2000, and there will be a huge impact in 2001 to 2003," Kim said. "These new markets, plus the general over-20G (byte) drives will account for more than 50 percent of the disk drive market by 2003. This the savior the industry has been looking for."

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