Hopes for unified DVD format fade as Sony, Toshiba disagree

MUMBAI: After months of negotiations, plans for a unified format for next-generation DVDs have been scrapped after the competing groups - Sony and Toshiba - failed to reach an agreement.



According to media reports, the talks between the two have been indefinitely suspended between a group of companies led by Sony Corp., which supports the Blu-ray format, and the Toshiba Corp.-led bloc, which backs the HD DVD format.



A Toshiba company official was quoted in a media report saying that their stance hadn't changed and that the company thought that a single format was the best. The official further said that Toshiba was still open to discussions.

On the other hand, Sony also claims to be open to discussions citing that the Blu-ray Disc group's stance hadn't changed and that it continued to believe that its format is best for the future needs of the consumer electronics, computer gaming and PC data storage markets.

This format battle, which will be against the interests of the IT and consumer electronics industry and its customers, has been around since 2002 but it wasn't until earlier this year that the battle started getting taken more seriously.

A media report stated that with this discrepancy in the two company's interests, equipment makers are likely to suffer lower sales because consumers are expected to put off purchases. Content producers such as movie studios will also likely lose out because of lower demand.

Sony spokesman Taro Takamine was quoted in Japan's Yomiuri newspaper as saying, "Next-generation optical disks that are robust enough to stay relevant for more than 10 years are required to take advantage of high-definition video and high-quality audio, and the 0.1 mm (Blu-ray) disk structure is advantageous in this regard."

Sony's Blu-ray disks have a more sophisticated format and play back 25 GB of data compared with HD DVD's 15, but are more expensive to produce.

According to a media report, both companies are already developing products that feature the respective DVD formats. Toshiba plans to roll out HD DVD players by the end of this year, while Sony's popular game console PlayStation 3, which will play Blu-ray disks, is due to be launched in 2006.

Major companies are also split in their support of the two formats. Walt Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Apple Computer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Samsung Electronics support the Blu-ray format, while Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Sanyo, NEC, and Microsoft favour Toshiba.


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