Sony May Unite Blu-ray Disc, HD-DVD

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by Allan, Apr 9, 2005.

  1. Allan

    Allan Guest

    After more than a year of touting Blu-ray Disc as the best technology
    to replace DVD for storing high-definition video, a top executive at
    Sony, one of Blu-ray's major backers, has opened the door to the
    possibility of unifying the format with its arch rival, HD-DVD.

    "Listening to the voice of the consumers, having two rival formats is
    disappointing and we haven't totally given up on the possibility of
    integration or compromise," Ryoji Chubachi, Sony's president-elect,
    said at a news conference Thursday in which he discussed the company's
    performance and future strategy.

    The statement may surprise backers of the rival camps, who have
    assembled consortiums of major electronics companies, disc makers, and
    Hollywood studios to promote the formats in a battle that echoes one
    fought a quarter of a century ago between Betamax and VHS.

    HD-DVD backers, which include NEC and Toshiba, say HD-DVDs can be
    produced for about the same price as DVDs and are backward-compatible
    with DVDs and CDs, making the format more convenient for both
    consumers and the industry. HD-DVD movie titles, PC drives, and
    players are all due out by the end of the year.

    Sony has steadfastly promoted Blu-ray as a technology that has greater
    capacity, saying this makes the format more useful because more
    content can be stored on a disc. The technology also has wider support
    in the technology industry, although release dates for movie titles
    have not yet been announced.

    Reaching a Compromise

    Chubachi's comments mark the second time that a Sony executive has
    signaled the possibility of a compromise between the two camps. In
    January, Ken Kutaragi, executive deputy president of Sony, said a
    format war was not in the public interest and that Sony had not ruled
    out the possibility of uniting the formats.

    As Sony's future president, Chubachi's remarks Thursday may carry more
    weight. Currently head of Sony's electronic components and
    manufacturing businesses, he will replace Kunitake Ando as Sony
    president on June 22 following the recent shake-up of Sony's top
    management. That shake-up saw Kutaragi step down from Sony's board,
    although he still heads its important gaming business.

    Kutaragi also admitted in January that Sony, by supporting its
    proprietary audio encoding system and not the widely-supported MP3
    format, had lost ground to competitors such as Apple Computer in the
    portable music player market, which Sony had once dominated with the

    While Sony's technological and engineering base is sound, the company
    must ensure that its products are aligned with the wants of consumers,
    Chubachi said. Sony's engineers have traditionally been regarded
    within the company as heroes and the creators of new markets, but
    recently their ideas have not always led to products that matched
    consumers' needs, he said.

    "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 9, 2005
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