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HP Takes Wait-And-See Approach to DVD+RW

Hewlett-Packard reported today that it is shelving plans to roll out a 3GB DVD+RW drive and instead will focus on a 4.7GB version for release in 12 to 18 months.

Kevin Salbanha, HP’s DVD+RW product manager, said HP will not follow through on its plan announced last spring to ship a 3GB drive this fall. Calling the 3GB drive simply an “interim” product and not fully suitable for the current rewritable DVD market, Salbanha said HP would rather wait until the 4.7GB format is ready and for a greater installed base of DVD readers. DVD+RW’s maximum capacity is 4.7GB, he said, so it makes little sense to try to sell a lower-capacity product that would soon be surpassed.

HP announced the 3GB DVD Writer 3100i in May. Salbanha said HP has ironed most of the bugs out of a 4.7GB version, but there would be little sense in releasing it because the current crop of DVD-ROM drives are unable to read either 4.7GB media or 3GB DVD+RW discs. A fix for the DVD-ROM drives has been developed and models will soon ship that can read the DVD+RW media, but millions need to be sold before a 4.7GB DVD+RW can be sold, he said.

“The market conditions are just not there for an interim product like 3GB DVD+RW,” Salbanha said, adding that the market should be ripe for the picking when monthly DVD-ROM sales outstrip CD-ROM/CD-RW drive sales. HP estimates between 15 million and 20 million DVD-ROM drives have been sold in the past couple of years, while just CD-RW drives are selling at one million units per month.