Boulder, Colorado-based DataPlay thought it had the perfect product: a cheap (less than ten cents a megabyte), quater-sized disc that holds huge amounts of data — perfect for pre-recorded content such as music and ebooks. But its dream of eventually usurping CDs as the media of choice for millions of consumers may be nearing an end. Last week DataPlay furloughed all of its remaining employees and closed shop after running out of money, according to a story by CNet’s News.com. DataPlay is now desperately searching for the additional financing needed to continue operations.
DataPlay, once a technology darling (it even won a best of show award at Comdex), was labeled a “can’t miss” by many industry analysts. But products capable of using DataPlay’s media format were slow to reach market. In fact, the first DataPlay-capable product — an MP3 player by iRiver — wasn’t released until earlier this year. And media companies weren’t rushing to adopt the DataPlay format either. DataPlay was quickly learning that launching a new media format isn’t as easy as it first sounds.
While this may be disappointing news to some handheld computer enthusiasts who’d hoped DataPlay’s technology would someday make its way into PDAs, that was never likely to occur. DataPlay’s optical technology requires an optical reader, which may be too bulky for a PDA, where every millimeter, and every ounce, count. Also, DataPlay discs are write-once, read many, or WORM, and therefore more suited for prerecorded content like music and ebooks, rather than data that gets updated.