who's making 16X CD-R media?
Stephen Clark Jr.
March 30, 2021 | As 16X has
gradually become the new magic number for CD-R media recording
speeds, and 16X drives have begun to make inroads in terms of
market penetration, the question of the moment is: who's making
16X CD-R media?
Quite a few companies, it turns
out, have already brought 16X CD-R media to store shelves. Because
16X media is backwards-compatible with drives ranging from 4X
to 16X recording speeds, owners of slower drives can still make
use of the media--even if they can't immediately take advantage
of the 16X top speed. Disc manufacturers face very little risk
in bringing media to a market that--especially on the consumer
side--may be saturated with 8X and 12X drives. "Both corporate
and consumer users--especially the corporate users--may buy the
media without fully needing it," says Chris Bailey, digital and
optical products manager at TDK. "The retailers will also want
to have the faster 16X media on their shelves, as opposed to the
slower 8X or 12X." Adds Memorex' Jim Noyd, "All of our media is
There's one notable absence from
the mass accession to 16X. CD-R's raging price wars have claimed
their first significant victim. As of February 28, 2001, major
media player Ricoh Disc Manufacturing Services Corporation (DMS-C)
has decided to shut down its United States disc manufacturing
operations, citing the inability to compete with the large Asian
manufacturers. "Ricoh has decided to cease disc manufacturing
in the United States for financial reasons," says Chris Katayama,
director of Ricoh USA. "We can no longer be competitive in the
U.S. against the big Taiwanese companies."
As manufacturers continue to cut
prices to remain competitive, Ricoh has found that it's harder
to make a profit. "The market price is low," says Katayama of
volume disc sale prices that have dipped below a quarter a disc
and left mere slivers of profitability above manufacturing, marketing,
and licensing costs. Ricoh isn't completely quitting the media
manufacturing game, however. The company still has plans to continue
disc production at its plants in Taiwan and Japan, and plans to
focus on business in the U.S.
While Ricoh's exit from the U.S.
CD-R manufacturing scene could be interpreted as an ominous sign
of the market to come, the remaining manufacturers are apparently
optimistic about the state of the market. The adoption of 16X
drives may be a little sluggish on the consumer side, as most
home users are not pressed to upgrade from 8X or 12X drives. On
the corporate side, however, where speed and throughput are much
more critical, 16X seems to be catching on at a much faster rate.
"We have a very large corporate and high-tech market, and they
are all switching over to faster drives," says Laura Huber, marketing
manager at Mitsui Advanced Media, Inc.
Even as consumers are getting their
hands on cutting-edge 16X drives and media, many media manufacturers
are already preparing for higher-speed 20X and 24X drives. "There's
an indication of 20X, possibly 24X, and Verbatim will release
media to coincide with any new drives," says Ron Hanafan, optical
products manager, Verbatim. "Mitsui has actually switched over
to 16X, and is working on 24X," says Huber. Latest reports indicate
that the higher-speed drives will debut at COMDEX, if not sooner.
Expect the media to meet them there.