It sounds simple, but the format could prove attractive to companies who would like a cheap way to mass mail their digital promotion campaigns, software fixes and free samples of music and movies. Leek estimates that Thindiscs will cost about half as much to produce as regular discs, since the material and packaging are cheaper and won't require as much planning. However, there are some major hurdles. Manufacturers need specialized machinery to print the discs and consumers must possess a little ring that adjusts the optical device in their standard CD, CD-Rom and DVD machines; it's sort of like the plastic gizmo that snaps into a 45-rpm record.
Leek is an electrical engineer who has worked on compact disc technology for companies like General Electric. He founded ThinDisc in 1996 with his partner, Tam Steele, who has a background in the printing and direct mail industries. ThinDisc has raised $4.1 million from private investors and one entertainment company, Rainmaker Digital, in Hollywood, Calif. It is currently raising another $20 million to finish building its factory.
And by the time ThinDisc convinces enough customers to switch formats (which is never an easy psychological shift), newer ways of delivering digital information stored on flash memory could have taken hold. Also, advertisers are trimming their budgets right now, not necessarily looking for radical new ways of wooing the public. But CD and DVD players are nowhere near extinction. If ThinDisc takes off, the resilient little circlets could become as recognizable as Salvador Dali's floppy watches..." NULL