BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment: New Media
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 09:40 GMT
Future of compact discs 'safe'
Cd listener
Will CDs be the media of choice in the future?
Compact discs have a long and healthy future despite the advent of technology such as MP3 players, the head of a leading digital media company has said.

Elliot Carpenter, chief financial officer of Roxio, the leading CD copying software company, told BBC News Online that CDs remain the media of choice for consumers.

Research says that people are willing to pay for music online

Elliot Carpenter, Roxio
"By our count there are 1.5 billion CD players in the world - the ubiquity and universality of the playback is pretty compelling," he said.

The increased use of digital music files such as MP3 and MP3 players has led to some people questioning the future of the CD.

'No doubt'

But Mr Carpenter believes people are still keen to keep precious songs, or even digital photographs, on a compact disc.

"There is absolutely no doubt that it is fundamental for people to want to physically own their music.

CD history
Dutch scientist Klass Compaan Philips Research conceives of CD
Compaan and Piet Kramer unveil the first color videodisc prototype
Sony team up with Philips to develop a standard, universal compact disc to hold audio
Philips/Sony Compact Disc Digital Audio standard disc is officially announced
CDs released in Europe and Japan
CDs released in USA
"They want a tangible product. I don't think people feel they own music when it is sitting on their hard drive."

Advances in digital music technology have opened up a whole debate about how consumers want their music, in what form and at what price.

Dedicated MP3 players are becoming increasingly popular but there is no sign yet of any negative impact on CD player sales.

"By 2005 there will maybe be 14 million MP3 players on the market from 40 different companies, so it is really a fractured market and really a niche," said Mr Carpenter.

He added: "By 2005 there will be 600 million CD recorders in the market - the install base lends itself to the CD being the primary choice."


Roxio is a partner of Pressplay, one of the two main legitimate sources of music on the internet and is backed by Sony, Universal and EMI.

Pressplay, unlike its rival MusicNet, gives users the option to burn - copy - their songs on to a CD once they have been downloaded.

The record industry is concerned about copies of CDs
The increasingly widespread use of CD copying and the availability of songs via such websites as Napster has caused great concern among record companies.

They were fearful of losing revenue from CDs sold in shops - worried that people would rather copy or download and then burn music onto a CD than buy it.

But Pressplay, says Mr Carpenter, has taken a practical attitude to the problem.

"They feel people will pay for a good service where they can buy music online and burn it to a CD.


"CD copying is a reality but they feel only the minority want to pirate CDs.

"We told the labels that portability and mobility are critical - that is, getting it off your PC and on to a CD is crucial so you can play it wherever you want."

MusicNet, backed by the two other big record companies, BMG and Warner, has taken a different route.

CD player
More than a billion CD players are in use worldwide
Users are blocked from burning the songs onto a CD.

Mr Carpenter said: "If you look at MusicNet it is basically a tethered concept. You are renting the music.

"As soon as you stop paying your subscription, the music you have downloaded to your hard drive is no longer playable."

The same is true of Pressplay - although songs burned onto a CD, of course, can continue to be used.

Long term

Consumers have also expressed concern about copy protected CDs, some of which fail to play on many older CD machines.

Mr Carpenter added: "Recently you had Philips saying that 'if you ship a CD that is copy protected - that is not in accordance with what Sony and we said a CD is supposed to be. You cannot call it a CD-Rom and you will have to put warnings on it'."

In the long term, some analysts have predicted that all our music - and even video material - will be stored on a giant hard drive on the internet.

Consumers, they predict, will not own CDs but rather rent space on the internet where their music and films will reside.

"The reality is that people with something that they really care about - such as images of their family - want to put their files onto something that will last and they can play back in five to 10 years," said Mr Carpenter.


Music downloaded from the internet, however, is here to stay, he predicts.

"Research says that people are willing to pay for music online.

"People would accept a model where you go on the internet, customise what you want, pay for it it and then burn it.

"It is the same end product - the CD - but it is immediate. You don't have to go into Tower Records looking for it, hoping it is there."

Elliot Carpenter
"Napster was like a third world telephone system"
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more New Media stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more New Media stories