Yet Another Company Tries Disposable DVDs, Despite A Looooong List Of Failed Predecessors

from the anything-different-this-time-around? dept

Lots of folks may remember DIVX, the massively overhyped self-destructing DVDs from Circuit City that failed back in 1999. But what fewer people realize is that this terrible and wasteful idea shows up every couple of years. And each time, it fails miserably. In 2001 some no name company claimed that it was doing disposable DVDs correctly, claiming they had learned from the failures of DIVX. Turns out, they hadn't. Then in 2003, Disney acted as if the idea was entirely brand new and got everyone excited about disposable DVDs that would self-destruct. Guess what? That failed too when no one bought them (amusingly, Disney duped a Reuters reporter into claiming there was "exploding interest" in disposable DVDs at the same time that stores were literally throwing the discs away). In 2005, Disney sold off the technology to some other company who insisted that they were going to do it "right" and there would be a huge market for these discs. Heard anything about them since? Me neither.

So here we are in 2008, and reader Nick Burns alerts us to the news of a German company excitedly entering this market with a product that sounds almost identical to the Disney version (using a chemical that renders the content unreadable in 48-hours). Somehow, even with a German accent, I don't see this latest attempt having much of a chance. It's not too difficult to understand why: nothing about a disposable self-destructing DVD adds value for the end-user.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Zack, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 4:42pm

    Do it right.

    What they have to do is write an executable code that erases everything before set checkpoints, so you can't regain the data. They should also password protect it so that people can't put it on their computers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Eric the Grey, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 5:15pm

    This would only benefit a few people.

    Those who would be willing (and technically competent enough) to rip said DVDs and make copies of them on their computer for future use.

    It's a very easy thing to do, if you know where to find the tools. Most people don't do this because they either don't have the technical skill to properly use the tools, or simply don't know where to find them.

    So yea, it'll fail again.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Jake, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 5:21pm

    If they want to make money out of the technology, they're probably best off selling it to the British government so that it doesn't matter when a DVD-R containing three million people's personal details gets lost in the post.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    PRMan, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 6:47pm

    I'm working on a chemical myself...

    I'm investing heavily on a chemical that stabilizes the DVDs. I think I'll do really well.

    Just kidding. How many times to people have to fail at this before they realize that nobody wants it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    ReallyEvilCanine, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 6:49pm

    Iceland has 'em

    The 10-11 convenience stores (many of which are open 24 hrs now) have display racks of the things. Never seen anyone leafing through actually buy one and couldn't be bothered to fork out €5 or €6 to take one and try to rip it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    DooBie, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 7:45pm


    First off isn't it "DivX," not "DIVX"? Secondly, I think the reason that the DivX idea never worked was because they tried to copyright/lockdown MPEG-4. XviD is way better than DivX due to some main factors: It's open, and it is compatible with other MPEG-4 codecs. As long as you know how to switch the FOURCCs for your files you can decode anything with only a few codecs. DivX didn't anticipate this and thought that since it was expensive, it could get away with selling something that's already free to those who want it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    DanC, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 7:58pm

    Re: DivX

    You seem to be confusing the DivX video codec and the DIVX DVDs that Circuit City was selling. Two different things entirely...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 8:01pm

    No, DIVX is DIgital Video eXpress. More or less DRM'd media that was released when Joe Sixpack actually cared about media not being DRM-crippled..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 7:30am

    These new discs should be made to float.
    That way they can add to the plastic bottle armada.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Crazy Coyote, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 8:19am

    I thought they were disposable

    Just kidding. When I worked for a computer company we would fill a D-Container every week. Customers wanted thier own images installed. If I could only find a use for them besides rear view mirrors and clocks! Nic cards filled the other D-container. Where they went I do not know but it really sucked having to buy a NIC card for home when you just threw a few hundred away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Russ, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 8:57am


    I suppose they could work if they defined the market right. I doubt that they will. The fundamental characteristic is that the discs are one time use. And how much do people want to pay for a one time use? Not too damn much.

    For example, using them as a promo would be an effective DRM.

    If they wanted to sell directly, anything more than a netflix rental or on demand download is a non starter.

    They could make a living from these by but a paradigm change NO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    ehrichweiss, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Re: Do it right.

    I'll take that as your statement that you've never been involved in reverse engineering, cryptography or cracking. It's not that easy by any stretch of the imagination since there are a multitude of ways to bypass these methods.

    P.S. Mike, I thought that the DIVX DVD's were DRM'ed, in the way that we all dread thinking about today, to specific players that could handle the disks and that you had to get a confirmation code to play them more than the set number of times. It's been almost 10 years but I don't remember truly disposable DVD's becoming a reality until around 2003 or so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 11:12am

    Re: Maybe

    they could give them away at theatres with extra content like behind the scenes, goof reels, alternate endings maybe hype the extra content that will be on the DVD when it comes out or hype a sequel or even have the prequel on that when the DVD came out it would tease the consumer to shill out a few bucks to buy the DVD.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    John, Apr 19th, 2008 @ 3:56pm


    As post #9 sort-of pointed out, what is the end-result in disposable DVD's? Yep, more WASTE! Let's see... people watch the DVD, then a chemical renders the disc useless, then what? People throw it away? Aren't we throwing enough crap away already?

    Instead of arguing whether this technology will work or be accepted, let's argue about how bad it is for the environment. As much as people may hate Blockbuster or Netflix, at least their customers recycle DVD's by returning them to the rental company.

    I think we should boycott any company that promotes "disposable" anything. Instead, we should be encouraging companies who promote re-usable products.

    As an aside, downloadable movies and TV shows are even better for the environment since there's not even a disc involved!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Evil Hippie, Apr 20th, 2008 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Waste...

    Thank You.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Alan Heaberlin, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 4:41am

    Self destructive?

    Good Morning Mr. Phelps...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Supertramp, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 10:11am

    It would work...

    It work work if there were kiosks that sold the latest movies, burned to temporary DVDs for $1. Any more than that and no one will buy it. Why buy it, when you can rent it at a video store... why rent it at a video store, when you can rent as many videos as you want online for $20 a month?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 11:01am

    Yeah.. $1.00

    These would sell for a dollar or 99 cents, maybe out of a vending machine. How much did Disney try to charge for them? $5 or more?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    r. decline, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 12:18pm

    destroyed by chemical?

    so what is the chance i wonder that this chemical could build up overtime on the player tray and dispose of my purchased dvds? obviously just something on there that reacts to the air, but not sure i would want to stick that in my ps3 or computer, maybe my 15 dollar apex player....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Jerry Scott, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 11:26pm

    No market for disposable movies

    First there was Digital Video Express (DivX), then there was EZ-DVDs, and now Einmal disposable DVDs. What are these companies thinking? How can they think that anyone would want a disposable movie? With all of the environmental issues going on with the world of course people would reject such a product simply for this, but factor in that the price isn't even a good deal and this is a losing cause. Redbox has the right idea. Charge $1 per night.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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