GE Digital Video Standard Gets Strong Backing

Howard Wolff
Aviation Week & Space Technology

March 17, 1988

NEW YORK -- In the emerging market for interactive video systems based on compact-disk technology, General Electric Co. has gotten its nose out in front by signing up a microprocessor maker and two software houses to work with its standard. At least one expert believes that if GE's pricing matches its timing, the rival Philips-Sony Corp. technology could be in trouble.

Joining GE to back its Digital Video Interactive, or DVI, standard are Intel, Lotus, and Microsoft. A GE spokeswoman says that Intel Corp. will work to make DVI compatible with its microprocessor architectures and that Lotus Development Corp. and Microsoft Corp. will be involved with application software packages. GE also says it will deliver this month DVI prototypes to 10 of the 50 software companies that are exploring application products. All of the potential products will be for commercial use. One, for example, is a design operation for furniture makers and dealers, and another is a retail point-of-purchase system. Products should start appearing in the early 1990s, GE says.

The Philips/Sony duo, which calls its technology Compact Disk-Interactive, or CD-I, said last fall that it would have products this year Electronics, Nov. 26, 1987, p. 92, but the two companies say now that their target is 1989.

''GE's move does not affect our short-term plans at all,'' says Joop Witvoet, director of communications in Philips's New Media Systems Division in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. ''Our system is oriented more toward the consumer and institutional sector, not so much toward the professional market, as is GE's.''

But they should check with GE. The spokeswoman says that the company views DVI as a consumer product, unlike Philips/Sony. What's more, DVI has a built-in advantage: it can deliver 72 minutes of full-motion video, computer graphics, or audio and graphics on standard read-only CD. On the other hand, CD-I offers only partial animation. ''If you can get partial animation or full motion for the same price,'' asks industry watcher David Lachenbruch, editor of TV Digest, ''why go for the Philips/Sony version?''

Copyright 1988 McGraw Hill, Inc.