RealTime IT News

Inprimis Nabs Interactive DVD Proprietor

Inprimis Inc. Tuesday agreed to acquire the very firm it had been working with to create an interactive DVD player set-top box for about $6.5 million in stock.

Boca Raton, Fl.-based Inprimis shelled out 6.6 million shares of its stock for iDVDBox Inc., and has been quietly working with the company on the interactive DVD entetainment system, called i2DVD, for 11 months.

Think of it as a DVD/CD player bundled together with a Web browser in one piece of hardware. Consumers can watch TV, listen to music, browse and shop the Web, send and receive e-mail from the comfort of the couch. i2DVD also allows a listener or movie viewer to jump to a Web site that sells CDs or DVDs that correspond to the music or movie the machine is playing.

Need a practical use? Imagine watching MTV and the new Backstreet Boys single comes on. Suppose you like it so much that you just have to buy the album. You can use the box's browser to go to an e-tailer and look for the new CD. Assuming you're a regular customer, just point, click and finish the transaction.

Just how did Inprimis hook up with iDVDBox Inc.?

Steve Cavayero, president and CEO of iDVDBox, said when his firm though of the product, it needed a "development partner with the experience and technical resources to help us meet the enormous challenge of creating a single consumer electronics product that would combine DVD, CD, MP3 music, Internet access and interactive TV."

"Most importantly," Cavayero said, "Inprimis has completed the design very rapidly, enabling us to meet our very aggressive time-to-market goals."

As for going so far as to acquire its partner, Inprimis believed it would increase shareholder value. At 93 cents per share, the company could use a boost.

Eduard Will, a member of Inprimis's board of directors who was empowered to head the machinations of the deal, predicts that "DVD players are poised to become one of the fastest-growing consumer electronics products."

"The use of this technology will support new types of e-commerce by automatically linking DVD movies and CD music to specific Web content and e-commerce partners," Will said.

Tagged at $499 per unit, i2DVD is currently slated for a July 2001 release. iDVDBox has recorded more than $10 million worth of orders for the i2DVD in its books.

The potential success of the i2DVD remains to be seen, as some major companies that have created products capable of surfing the Web, such as Netpliance and 3Com Corp., have abandoned their Net appliance ventures. But those weren't so much entertainment Web-based products as just simple tools for searching the Web or firing off e-mails. Products with the inherent flexibility of combination content players and Web surfers may appeal to consumers more.

A Tuesday study by high-tech research firm Cahners In-Stat Group found that the Net appliance sector, into which the i2DVD neatly falls, will heat up over the next several years with sales growing over 40 percent per year between 2000 and 2005.

Jupiter Media Metrix, too, has been bullish, particularly on interactive television. The research firm said Monday that interactive television will grow 83 percent per year through 2005 in the U.S., reaching almost 46 million homes.