Marvin Keshner


Companies in Japan have made strong investments in optical storage both recently and over the past 15 years. With few exceptions, such as Philips in the Netherlands, the dominant players in optical storage are in Japan. Many of the U.S. optical storage companies are out of the business. Some are choosing to buy optical storage drives from outside of the United States, to add firmware and/or software and then to market the products under their name. The United States also has several optical library companies that buy optical drives and incorporate them into their libraries.

Recently, there has been renewed investment in the United States in optical recording. Representatives of many storage companies believe that magnetic recording technology is approaching some fundamental limits in areal density. As a result, several start up companies, backed with funding from many of the magnetic disk drive companies, are developing products to replace magnetic storage for some segments of the market. Included are Terastor, Quinta, Digital Papyrus and others.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the focus for optical storage is not to compete with magnetic disk drives, but rather to exploit the advantages of optical storage to serve market segments that are not well served by hard disks. Specifically, optical storage offers a reliable, removable medium with excellent robustness, archival lifetime, and low cost per GB. The targeted markets are replacing tape for video camcorders and replacing tape for time shifting TV programs (VCR replacement). Also targeted are the markets for storing digital photographs, for recording movies and other video material over the Internet, and for multimedia presentations at home and for business.

Published: June 1999; WTEC Hyper-Librarian