Toshiba, Sony Fail to Unify Hi-Def DVD Format
Plans for a "one format to rule them all" unified high definition DVD format seems to now be officially scrapped after Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. failed to reach agreement in their negotiations on a standard format, it was reported today by the Daily Yomiuri Online.
Since the companies could not seem to come to an agreement, there will be two distinct and incompatible high definition DVD formats on the market and there is hardly enough time for the two companies to get together once again and forumlate a last ditch effort on unification.
It is likely that adoption of the new technology will suffer and consumers will once again take the "wait and see" approach that will doom high definition DVD to a slow and expensive consumer acceptance rate. Similar to the battle between VHS and Betamax years ago, the two competing formats will only cause consumer confusion and unneccessary costs to those wanting to obtain the latest technology.
The two camps have separately developed their DVD formats, opting for differing approaches which yield distinct patent and licensing benefits. Each camp includes more than 120 different companies, including manufacturers and movie studios. In February the two companies got together to start talks about unification of the two high definition DVD technologies amidst growing concern about possible confusion arising from the different formats.
However, with each side claiming its superiority over the other, the talks have been suspended since May.
Toshiba plans to market a HD player at the end of the year while Sony is preparing to put on sale next spring PlayStation 3, a game machine that may utilize (and quickly bring to market) Blu-ray disks.
Sony's Betamax, which went on sale in 1975, competed for the videotape market share for more than 10 years with VHS videotapes marketed by Matsushita and Victor Co. of Japan. U.S. manufacturers and electronics and movie retailers have already voiced concerns that consumers might be reluctant to purchase the next-generation DVDs due to confusion over the differing formats.
Both camps are stepping up efforts to tie up with entertainment companies and movie studios who will be distributing the majority of high definition software.
In August, the Sony-led group won support from 20th Century Fox, a major U.S. movie maker, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., a second-tier movie producer, and Universal Music Group, one of the world's leading music companies. Sony said it had gained the upper hand over the Toshiba bloc in terms of the number of companies supporting its format.
Meanwhile, the Toshiba bloc plans to put on sale between autumn and the end of the year a personal computer disc drive and household players to build a footing in the market before the Sony group. Toshiba also has agreed to jointly develop the player with Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software company.
Sony asserts that the recording capacity of the Blu-ray disc is 25 GB, greater than the HD-DVD's 20 GB, but Toshiba says it can mass-produce HD discs more cheaply than Blu-ray discs.
Let's just hope that one of these formats quickly fades away so that consumers can feel comfortable and secure in moving into the next high definition DVD format.