Report: No Unified Next-Gen DVD

A Japanese daily reported Tuesday that any hope of a unified format for next generation DVDs is all but gone as the two sides have broken off talks. According to the Yomiuri newspaper, neither side was willing to yield and time ran out to strike a deal.

"Late August is the practical time limit (to finalize a deal)," Yoshihide Fujii, Toshiba's corporate senior vice president, told the paper. Toshiba needed to start developing the software for its HD-DVD players at that time.

Toshiba, NEC, and Sanyo have all thrown their weight behind HD-DVD, while Sony, Matsushita (Panasonic), and Apple have pledged to support the Blu-ray format.

Recently, Blu-ray has seen much of the momentum, with Lions Gate Entertainment and Universal Music Group announcing their support for the format last week. These deals have helped to keep Blu-ray in the public eye, which could lead to increased sales based on name recognition when Blu-ray players finally hit the market next year.

HD-DVD, on the other hand, has been pretty much silent despite expectations the format will reach store shelves in time for the holidays.

Both sides agree that a unified format is best for the industry and would lead to faster adoption by consumers. However, at least for the time being, the promise of a unified format is all but dead. According to sources close to the negotiations, progress stalled after the initial attempts to agree on a deal faltered in May.

Toshiba president Tadashi Okamura said in May that he realizes that a format war is not what the industry wants. "We may actually have a situation where merchandise from both sides is put on store shelves. But the market would not allow that situation to last very long," he said.

Nonetheless, it now appears that a format war is what consumers will get with time running out to finalize hardware and begin manufacturing high-definition DVDs.

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