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Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Sony, Toshiba Give up on Unified DVD Format

Although it is not surprising, groups headed by Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp. offering competing technologies for next-generation DVDs have given up efforts to develop a unified format, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Tuesday.

For three years, the two groups have pushed to have their respective technology standards adopted to gain dominance in the multibillion-dollar markets for DVD players, PC drives and optical discs.

Toshiba, along with NEC Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co. , has been promoting HD DVD, while Sony and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. , the maker of Panasonic brand products, have been developing a technology known as Blu-ray.

The two groups have held negotiations on unifying their formats to persuade consumers to shift to advanced discs and to promote growth in the industry.

But negotiations fell through as neither side yielded, and time ran out to develop a format before the launch of new products from both groups, the paper said.

"Late August is the practical time limit (to unify formats)," Yoshihide Fujii, Toshiba's corporate senior vice president, was quoted as saying in the paper.

A Toshiba spokeswoman said Fujii just meant that the company needed to start developing software by late August for its HD DVD-based players, scheduled for release at the end of 2005.

Both officials agreed, however, that a unified format is still a possibility. They said a single format would be the best way, and added they would release their products as scheduled.

Sony plans to put a Blu-ray disc drive in its new PlayStation game console next year.

Sony's Blu-ray technology is also backed by Dell Inc. and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. .

Toshiba's then president, Tadashi Okamura, had said in May producers of next-generation optical discs would eventually use one format, although products based on the two competing standards may be around for a limited time.

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