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DivX 5.0: From T-shirt To Dress Suit

Quo Vadis, DivX?

The DivX Networks, Inc. team has put on a new suit. But a suit doesn't necessarily add up to professionalism and market success. Still, DivX Networks has outstanding preconditions for making it in the market: we see parallels to MP3. When the audio codec stabilized and the advantages of high data compression rates became clear to many users, it started a victory march that went around the world. Diamond Multimedia, the first to introduce an MP3 player to the market as a consumer product, showed they were ready for the risk. After that, the market became oversaturated with MP3 products. The death knoll has sounded for the good old Walkman with the mechanically operated cassette. Sales figures already bear that out.

Like MP3, DivX/ MPEG-4 could revolutionize the market for digital video. Think of the possibilities: a DVD can be compressed for private use to a file size that allows it to fit on a CD-ROM. Notebook owners can take more than 10 times the video material with them, with the same data capacity. Several episodes of training videos would fit on a notebook hard drive. Several videos could be copied onto a relatively small laptop hard drive, to take them on vacation, for example. DivX/ MPEG-4 Videos allow us to make less demand on Internet data networks, making more efficient use of valuable bandwidth. This format is also superbly suited as a transfer medium. Even the download times for videos on demand can be effectively reduced. Mobile devices like PDAs, UMTS mobile phones, or video Walkmans would finally have a solution for transmitting video sequences.

Until now, DivX Networks has only had a codec for encoding and decoding, which can be easily called up from within applications using the Video-for-Windows API (VfW). The bundled player software, however, is only a perk that will not necessarily be needed - the Microsoft media player will be enough for this purpose.

From a strategic point of view, it is advisable to improve the user-friendliness of video editing software, because including it in professional applications like Adobe Premiere or Pinnacle Studio will not help it capture the mass market. Those who just want to quickly edit a DV tape from the digicam and send it, or those who want to copy several DVDs onto CD-ROMs must suffer through relatively difficult-to-use programs. That means they have to do complicated calculations of data rates in order to compress a DVD so that it will take full advantage of the capacity of a CD-R. If DivX Networks manages to reach a broad segment with simple pack-and-go tools, the company itself could profit with a victory march.