Unified Next-Gen DVD Format Unlikely

It seems as if the promise of a unified next-generation DVD format may be dead for the near future. This comes after comments from Toshiba president Tadashi Okamura to a group of Japanese business leaders that seemed to indicate that the two sides were far from any kind of agreement.

Sony, however, seemed to hold out hope while at the same time stipulating that any agreement must be in its format's favor. The inability to compromise is the key reason why the two sides cannot seem to work out their differences.

"The only hope is if we can reach an agreement in a week or two on a new format that is not that different from Blu-ray physically," Ken Kutaragi, the creator of Sony's PlayStation game console told a group of reporters. PlayStation 3 is expected to use Blu-ray as its primary disc format.

Toshiba is the creator of the HD-DVD disc, which it has touted as the superior of the two formats for its backward compatibility. HD-DVD discs actually have two layers of data that would allow the discs to still play on older players.

Sony's Blu-ray, on the other hand, has the backing of many computer manufacturers. Apple Computer signed on as a Blu-ray supporter earlier this year.

Toshiba's Okamura said 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.

Industry leaders had hoped to avoid a format war much like the VHS-Beta battle over two decades ago. However, this week's comments seem to indicate that at least for a little while, consumers will be forced to choose one technology over the other.

Toshiba plans to have HD-DVD players available by the holiday season, with Sony expecting to debut Blu-ray early next year.

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