More Electronics Firms Join Debate to End DVD War.

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by Allan, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. Allan

    Allan Guest

    More Electronics Firms Join Debate to End DVD War
    Fri Apr 22, 2005 08:08 AM ET

    By Lucas van Grinsven, European Technology Correspondent

    AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - More electronics companies have joined talks
    between Japan's Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. to develop a common
    format for next-generation DVDs and end a fierce battle, industry
    sources said on Friday.

    Other key companies involved in the format war, including Matsushita's
    Panasonic and Netherlands-based Philips are also studying ways to end
    the three-year stand-off that is threatening to stifle the industry's

    But sources close to the electronics companies said it was still early
    days, and that the discussions would take a long time, while adding
    that a positive outcome was not guaranteed.

    "Discussions are taking place, but it's very complex, both in terms of
    technology but also because so many companies have a stake in this,"
    one source told Reuters.

    At the core of both formats are blue lasers, which have a shorter
    wavelength than the red lasers used in current DVD equipment, enabling
    thinner lines and higher density of information on a single 12
    centimeter disc.

    Higher storage DVDs are needed for high-definition movies and
    television. The companies which contribute to the next DVD standard
    can expect hundreds of millions, or even billions of euros (dollars)
    in royalty income over coming decades.

    Panasonic said the Blu-ray standard it supports is the best format for
    next generation optical disc, but a spokesman added his firm "remains
    open to adopting appropriate technologies for the best interest of
    consumers and the marketplace."

    Philips declined to comment.

    Sony and Toshiba said on Thursday they would work toward a common
    format in order to avoid a drawn-out fight that would confuse
    consumers and hinder the industry's development, just like the spat
    between the VHS and Betamax video tape formats two decades ago.

    In an interview with Reuters earlier this month in France, Yukinori
    Kawauchi, the general manager in charge of the new format for Sony,
    had said his company was "open to discussions" on creating a single
    technology standard.


    The about-turn coincides with the recent appointment of new chief
    executives at both Sony and Toshiba who do not have a strong personal
    interest in either format and can be more flexible.

    The Blu-ray technology is backed by a group including Sony, Dell Inc.,
    Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Philips Electronics NV and Matsushita.

    Toshiba, with NEC Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd., has been
    promoting a technology called HD DVD.

    Electronics companies hope the technology will spark a new wave of
    purchases for DVD players, and Hollywood's movie studios hope to
    benefit from a new round of buying of advanced DVDs.

    Unlike the original DVD format dispute between 1993 and 1995, which
    was eventually resolved in a few months when the Sony-Philips camp
    agreed to develop a single standard with a camp around Toshiba and
    Warner, the current alliances involve many more companies, including
    those from the personal computer industry and Hollywood.

    "There's a lot of powerplay internally. The managers may like the idea
    of a single standard, but the companies don't want to throw away
    everything they have developed," one source said.

    Sony and Toshiba have reportedly already begun briefing Walt Disney
    Co. and other Hollywood movie studios for approval of a unified
    standard, paving the way for the signing of an agreement between the
    rival camps.

    A unified format would be favorable for profitability across the
    industry because consumers would be more comfortable about buying
    next-generation products and manufacturers could achieve lower
    production costs.

    The different formats for recordable DVDs, which were developed in the
    late 1990s, have made drives more expensive.

    While the discussions to unify the format take place, preparations to
    introduce different HD-DVD and Blu-ray equipment later this year
    continue, the companies have said. (Additional reporting by Nathan
    Layne in Tokyo)

    "Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game
    because they almost always turn out to be -- or to be indistinguishable from
    -- self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time."
    - Neil Stephenson, _Cryptonomicon_
    Allan, Apr 22, 2005
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