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Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Sony: We're open to avoiding a DVD format war

Sony said Wednesday that it is open to discussions to create a single standard for the next generation of DVD discs

A move that could head off the looming threat of a major format war among the world's biggest technology companies. "From the point of view to provide the best service to the consumer one format is better than two. We're open to discussions," Yukinori Kawauchi, general manager in charge of the next DVD format at Sony's Video Group, said in an interview. But he added that specific proposals have yet to be tabled.

"There's no visible progress to do that (create a single standard)," Kawauchi told Reuters at an event organized by Sony. The electronics industry is facing a battle between the so-called Blu-ray optical discs and HD DVD discs, two different new DVD formats that offer higher capacity than current DVDs.

The first players and recorders for the new formats are expected to be on the market by the end of this year, and as the introduction dates draw closer industry specialists fear a bloody battle similar to the videotape war between the VHS and Betamax formats in the early 1980s.

Japan's TDK, Sony and Philips Electronics are part of a large group promoting Blu-ray against a group led by Toshiba and its HD DVD technology.

At stake is pole position in the $10 billion-a-year DVD player and recorder market, and a similar-sized PC drive market.

The worldwide value of all published DVD products is expected to grow at an average 18 percent a year to $77 billion by 2009 from $33 billion in 2004, high-tech market research group In-Stat/MDR said in a report published last month.

The companies that establish the next DVD standard will reap royalties on the technology for many years to come.

At the core of both formats are blue lasers, which have a shorter wavelength than the red lasers used in current DVD equipment, allowing discs to store data at the higher densities needed for high-definition movies and televisions. Hollywood studios are still divided on what format to support.

Apple Computer joined the group of Blu-ray companies last month, with Dell and Hewlett-Packard already pushing that format.

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