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OPINION DECEMBER 20 , 2000
Guest Opinion: FireWire Opened the Door for Faster, Better Business Communications

by Guillaume Mazieres
Vice President of Marketing, LaCie Ltd.
Special to Creative Mac
[email protected]

It is difficult to believe that something as small and seemingly inconsequential as a connector could change the economics of an entire industry, but that is what has happened in the five years since the first FireWire connection appeared on a Sony DV camcorder in 1995. Since then, the interconnect standard that was championed by Apple has stimulated a new breed of powerful, easy to use and increasingly economic digital video camcorders.

It is doubtful if even Apple's management had any idea the impact their ideas would have back in the early ‘90s when they came up with the concept for a high-speed serial bus, now officially known as IEEE 1394 and in the Mac community simply as FireWire. While the Apple engineers wanted a solution that would enable amazingly fast digital data transfers (400 megabits per second), FireWire connections appeared on the new breed of DV camcorders and high-speed storage devices. Soon, video production hardware/software started getting better and more economical. Computers became faster and more powerful so that today, any Mac is a multimedia system.

Professional video comes home
FireWire literally put professional-quality video production into the hands of the home user. Video production has become so popular that a number of Windows-based manufacturers have begun adding 1394 connectors to their systems. According to industry researchers at Jon Peddie Associates, more than 13 million computers had FireWire connectivity last year, and that figure will more than double this year. For those who aren't fortunate enough to have a FireWire-equipped Mac there are PC video capture boards that can be purchased to add the connection capability.

The reason for the sudden manufacturer interest is fairly obvious: consumer demand. This Christmas the most widely purchased electronic gifts will be a digital video camera. Peddie Associates estimates that more than 10 million DV cameras with IEEE 1394 connectivity will be shipped worldwide.

But even people who weren't fortunate enough to get a DV camcorder for Christmas but already have or received a Mac have started to see that they can suddenly do something with the huge library of video tape they have recorded over the years with their analog camcorders. More importantly, corporate training, service, support, HR and marketing departments realize that with iMovie they can quickly and economically turn their video tapes into digital training/sales files and can provide customers with video-enabled installation and troubleshooting files.

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