One frustration with the new forms of optical storage is that they are mutually incompatible. At least up to now, if rumors on Usenet prove to be true. One rumor says that a European company is working on an erasable optical drive which can also read the CD-ROM disks that are becoming a popular method of distributing large amounts of information. This would be a boon to those of us who would like to read the occasional CD-ROM but don't use them enough to justify a stand-along CD-ROM player. Of course you would still have to need the massive storage abilities of an erasable optical to justify the undoubtedly higher price of a hybrid unit, but that's nitpicking.
A more exciting rumor claims that Yamaha is working on a WORM drive that can write to standard CD-ROM platters, which can then be read in normal CD-ROM players. The advantages of this method of creating CD-ROMs are that the CD-ROM format is standardized, unlike the WORM formats, and CD-ROM platters are far less prone to damage or data loss than tape or magnetic media, making the system ideal for large backup sets.
The ability to create a standard CD-ROM incrementally in a WORM drive is extremely interesting, because it's a relatively complex and expensive procedure to master a CD-ROM, although the price per disk is low after the initial mastering costs. The standard method is to create a tape of the information and then transfer that tape to CD-ROM, a process which is typically clumsy. This ease of production might also increase the use of the sound and digitized graphics, both of which are usually space-hungry. So pay attention for these products and let us know if you hear anything more!