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GeorgeBlood wrote a superb assessment and asked relevant questions.

> As I understand, the "issues" (we won't call them "problems") trace the 
> recent history of the company, as the Gold product line has been sold 
> several times in the last five years.  I'm not clear enough about that 
> history to recount it, but my impression is that the underlying troubles 
> are not "greed" but distraction.  CD manufacturing and CD-R 
> manufacturing in particular, is extremely competitive.  Price vs. costs 
> are driven more by survival than by squeezing the last penny out of the 
> customer. Whatever the reason, our collective concerns are with the 
> ends, not the means -- we don't buy media because a company makes less 
> money than another, we buy it because it's "better." 

> Are we worried about the right problem?

Last things first: we are worried about the only problem in this area 
which we can address. Profitability and market share may be the 
manufacturers' primary interests, but we can neither know nor affect 
those matters.

It is not clear where the market for quality and durability lies, but 
there is one area which might be explored: optical media for medical 
recording. There may be others where quality is a primary concern; if we 
can find them and exploit them to expand the niche they fill, perhaps we 
can look forward to a continuing supply of premium media. As George 
describes the MAM-A situation, prospects otherwise are dim.

Let me offer an anecdote. Several years ago, I was contacted by a U.S. 
startup planning to manufacture CD-Rs in New England. First tests were 
encouraging: very low error counts and admirable consistency when 
neither was characteristic of any media but the expensive T-Y and Mitsui 
lines.

They aimed for a market concerned enough about quality to pay somewhat 
more than the garage operations charged, enough about cost to avoid the 
quality leaders. When a batch of inconsistent discs arrived, I reported 
promptly and received not only replacements but thanks for enabling them 
to find a faulty piece of QA hardware and to return to quality production.

They were doing well until the mass market for CD recorders arrived and 
the cheap product improved a bit in quality concurrently with the shift 
to 700 MB standard discs and the introduction of 90-, 95- and 99-minute 
blanks. Even making 700-MB media did not let them maintain market. They 
asked me to test an attempt at 95-minute blanks. I took advantage of 
Jerry's offer of one free test to confirm my limited analysis and 
concluded that though their product was superior to those already on the 
market, they could not produce it and maintain their reputation for quality.

Soon after, the company folded. They could not compete on price with 
schlock from the Orient; they could not compete on reputation with the 
high-end product. I fear that without supplement, the wanderings of 
Mitsui/MAM gold will continue until a cliff is encountered and quality 
audio media vanish.

Mike
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