You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

DVD dispute erupts

Three tech giants introduce rival format

TOKYO — The much-heralded advance of the digital videodisc (DVD) into the homes and minds of the world’s electronics consumers may have hit a speed bump; and it’s a bump that looks familiar to consumers and manufacturers alike.

Although the audio and video standards involved in mastering and manufacturing DVDs were agreed to months ago, a new dispute — reminiscent of the Beta-VHS videocassette wars of 20 years ago — is emerging over the definitive format for rewritable DVDs, which may eventually comprise 30% of the total DVD market.

The majority of the members of an international industrial consortium are currently backing one format, while a triumvirate of tech giants — Sony Corp., Philips Electronics NV and Hewlett-Packard Corp. — are throwing their weight behind a competing format.

The 10-member consortium known as the DVD Forum last week applied to the European Computer Manufacturers Assn., an international standards body, for approval of their DVD random access memory (DVD-RAM, or DVD-Rewritable) format.

But now the Sony/Philips/HP group are asking that the same standards board approve their format for a 12cm optical disc that uses an optics technology that would render it incompatible with the other, already-approved DVD-R format.

For its part, Sony said it still supports the Forum’s work, but it will not be making any DVD-R products based on the group’s format. The company said its optical disc has greater capacity, at 3 gigabytes per side, than the agreed-upon DVD-R format, at 2.6 gigabytes per side.

Sony also said its disc offers better compatibility with computer-data and video DVDs than the DVD-R format.

Such a squabble comes at a most inopportune time for DVDs, which only recently began convincing consumers to purchase read-only players for home theater systems and desktop computers alike. (Since they offer much greater capacity than CDs and CD-ROMs, DVDs are seen as their eventual replacements.)

The market for such products was never small, and will only grow larger, regardless of format. Japanese industry estimates say that by 2000 the market for DVDs could be as large as $25 billion, with DVD-Rs accounting for as much as 30% of the total.

But with the format contest being set up, consumers are very likely to wait and see how the battle turns out — which will put a significant crimp in any such projections.

One interesting aspect of the battle is that Sony and Philips are part of the DVD Forum, and worked to develop a DVD-R format in an April meeting in Tokyo. Their announcement of a competing DVD-R format did not please Forum members, such as the group’s chair, Toshiba Corp.

“We don’t know why Sony, Philips and HP made that announcement,” a Toshiba spokeswoman said of the competing disc. “We believe we reached an agreement on the format in April.”

As the international standards commission hears arguments about which format to support, electronics companies are gearing up to put DVD-R computer products on the market later this year.

More Digital

  • Nick Eh 30, StoneMountain64

    CAA Signs Gaming Influencers Nick Eh 30, StoneMountain64

    CAA has signed two popular live-streaming battle royale gamers — Nicholas Amyoony, better known as Nick Eh 30, and David Steinberg, aka StoneMountain64 — for representation. CAA said it will work to create opportunities for Nick Eh 30 (above left) and StoneMountain64 (above right) in all areas, including TV, motion pictures, touring, digital distribution and [...]

  • Amazon Adds NBA League Pass to

    Amazon Adds NBA League Pass Live-Streaming Games to Prime Video Channels

    Amazon is bringing pro hoops action to Prime Video Channels: The ecommerce giant now offers NBA League Pass as part of its lineup of 150-plus subscription options for Prime members in the U.S. It’s the first U.S. live-sports subscription service on Prime Video Channels. Prime members can subscribe to NBA League Pass via Prime Video [...]

  • Fifty Shades of Grey

    International Piracy Ring Stole Over 25,000 Movie and TV Digital Files, U.S. Feds Say

    A five-member international hacking crime ring stole more than 25,000 files for Hollywood movies and TV shows and illegally offered hundreds of them for sale online, according to U.S. law enforcement officials. A federal grand jury in L.A. on Wednesday (Dec. 12) indicted five men, identified as residing in the U.K., India, Dubai and Malaysia, [...]

  • Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president

    Apple to Update iPhones in China to Avoid Sales Ban

    Apple is pushing out a software update to iPhones in China to address a recent court order obtained by Qualcomm that banned the sale of certain iPhone models in the country. The update will allow the company to continue selling its phones in China, company representatives told Reuters Friday morning. The Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court [...]

  • Kevin Reilly Variety Cover

    Kevin Reilly Named Content Chief for WarnerMedia Streaming Service

    Kevin Reilly — a veteran television exec who has led programming at NBC, FX, Fox, and most recently Turner Broadcasting — has been tapped to head content strategy for the still-nascent streaming service that WarnerMedia plans to launch next year. Reilly, who has led programming at Turner brands TNT and TBS since 2015, will serve [...]

  • Apple Culver City

    Apple Expects to Have Over 1,000 Employees in Culver City by 2022

    Apple announced plans to boost its L.A. presence, saying it expects to have more than 1,000 employees in Culver City, Calif., over the next three years, including its growing entertainment team. The move is part of the tech giant’s broader initiative to create 20,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2023 and includes a new $1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content