The “combo” machine that combines the functions of a CD-RW drive and DVD-ROM drive could come into wider use next year, due to low-cost Taiwanese optical drive makers entering production, market observers say.
A host of Taiwanese companies, including Lite-On IT, Behavior Tech Computer (BTC), Benq, AOpen and Ultima Electronics, have recently begun or plan to soon start combo drive shipments, expanding competition in a market dominated by South Korea and Japan.
Currently, the unit contract price of a combo drive ranges from US$80-90 at major makers like Ricoh, Toshiba, Samsung and LG Electronics, but it is bound to fall below US$80 to match prices from Taiwanese competitors. The price declines will accelerate in the future, with prices possibly falling to US$45 next year, according to Taiwanese industry estimates.
Local companies say that besides the price factor, the growth of combo drive will be stimulated by the trend of copying media from one optical drive to another rather than from a hard drive, saving time. For instance, a CD-ROM or a DVD-ROM can be used to play movies or songs, which then are transmitted over the computer and burned onto a blank disc on the combo drive.
According to the Market Intelligence Center (MIC), Taiwanese optical drive makers will ship 320,000 combo drives this year, a fraction of their total shipments. However, that figure is forecast to more than double to 720,000 units in 2003.
A report from Nikkei Market Access (Nikkei MA) predicts that combo drives will account for 11.6% of worldwide computer drive shipments next year, up from 6.9% this year.