New York -- DataPlay's CEO Steven Volk revealed that about 30 companies will exhibit a wide variety of products incorporating the company's 500MB media or its optical engine at the 2001 International CES next January.
Volk called acceptance for the new form factor "high," but he would not name the vast majority of vendors supporting the new technology.
Diamond, a significant investor in DataPlay, is the lone company to go public with its support and has shown a DataPlay-based Rio player.
However, he promised an outpouring of support will be evident at CES in the DataPlay pavilion. This will include 20 to 30 digital audio players, a couple of digital camcorder, five digital cameras, e-books and PDAs.
The first DataPlay devices should hit store shelves by mid-2001, said Volk.
The Rio player product line dominates the market, but it is finding increased competition from RCA, Creative Labs and Sony, according to InStat analyst Mike Paxton.
InStat is predicting that the portable digital player market will grow to $1.25 billion by the end of 2002.
DataPlay unveiled its quarter-size 500MB media and optical drive last June. Each disk is write-only but will cost between $5 and $10, compared to the $150 for a 64MB flash memory card. The disk has the capacity to be scaled to 1GB.
The optical engine, which Volk described as more akin to a miniature DVD-R than a CD-R drive, is energy efficient, making it suitable for battery-powered products.
The DataPlay CEO has spent a great deal of time securing the acceptance of the media by the music industry, and several labels will show prerecorded music on DataPlay disks at CES.
DataPlay is now working directly with retailers to install kiosks where consumers can download new music directly onto blank DataPlay media.
Retail support was not hard to garner once the vendor and music industries were behind the technology, he said, noting that TransWorld Entertainment, which owns the Coconuts, Camelot and Record Town chains, is on board.
"We went from content to vendor and now retailers," Volk said. "They are dying for a new form factor that will have people buying an older album again. And they will do this because the new recording will be better than CD quality and the record companies can put additional content on the DataPlay disks, like videos."
The disk's 500MB capacity will allow for a wide variety of promotional and add-on sales for retailers and music publishers. With the data compressed there is enough room on a DataPlay for both a new and an older album, plus a music video.
One example given by Volk had a customer buying the new album, then going to a retailer's Web store where he or she could get a password to unlock the music video, and then be given the opportunity to buy an encryption key that would unlock the second, older album on the disk.