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Appeared on: Monday, April 18, 2005
Sony looses ground on Blue

With Studios backing HD-DVD, any kind of compromise would content Sony.

It is always risky to predict the future, but current facts show that Sony is looking forward to compromise with Toshiba and the other members of the HD-DVD format camp to avoid the loss of profits in the near future. A similar situation happened 10 years ago when the original DVD format was settled. At that time, Sony had to abandon its format, with Toshiba and Matsushita winning out. Sony consequently lost the VHS/Betamax battle in the 1980s. It will undoubtfully wish that Blu-ray meets with success for a third time.

Major movie studios would also prefer the adoption of a single format for their digital content. It is crucial for Hollywood directors to avoid the costly and consumer-unfriendly situation of having to release DVDs in both formats.

Although both Toshiba and Sony representatives have courted Studios with their technologies, Toshiba seems to have the lead with its ROM proposition of high density video storage. Hollywood dismisses this scenario as it hopes to make Ocean's Twelve and The Bourne Supremacy the first high-definition releases of the year. The first HD-DVD players will then benefit of an interval of time to hit the market in the run up to Christmas, with Blu-ray devices following in early 2006.

In addition, Microsoft is now supporting the HD-DVD format. The news come from NAB2005, where Warner Bros Studios and Microsoft announced their eventual collaboratation on the release of a broad range of next-generation HD-DVD discs using Windows Media Video 9 (VC-1).

Sony reacted with the recent nomination of Howard Stringer as CEO. Stinger has close relationships with Hollywood authorities and his position appears to be backed by Sony's newly appointed president Ryoji Chubachi.

'In the area of next-generation optical discs, we continue to be open to discussions with supporters of other formats,' a Sony spokeswoman confirmed.

On the other hand, Toshiba 'remains interested in a single standard that would be in the best interestof the consumer,' according to Warren Lieberfarb, the former Warner Bros executive, currently working with Toshiba in persuading studios to acquire their format.

It seems that for Sony any compromise would be a synonym of success, with prospects of a share of the valuable licence fees.


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