Toshiba, Sony and Matsushita can’t agree on new DVD format

Toshiba Corp. said on Wednesday that no unified format for a next-generation DVD is likely before its year-end launch of advanced DVD players, a development that could leave users confused and hinder industry growth.

The collapse of the latest talks came after both sides refused to yield their positions before time runs out to develop an industry standard ahead of the scheduled launch of new products. Toshiba leads a consortium including NEC and Sanyo in pushing its HD-DVD format, while Sony and Matsushita, maker of Panasonic branded products, have been developing a technology known as Blu-ray, Telegraph reports.

The two groups have been trying to unify their formats to persuade retailers and consumers to shift to the newer technology and promote growth in the industry.

"Late August is the practical time limit to unify formats," according to Yoshihide Fujii, Toshiba vice-president. The company said it plans to ship its first new DVD players by early next year. Although the two sides have not ruled out further talks, it looks increasingly unlikely any agreement will be reached.

At the core of both technologies are blue lasers, which have shorter wavelength than the red lasers used in current DVD equipment and allow discs to store data at the higher densities needed for high definition films and television.

Toshiba claims that its technology will be cheaper and available sooner, giving it a head start in the battle to come. By contrast, Sony says Blu-ray will be faster and have greater capacity, meaning it take longer to become obsolete. Both will be able to play current DVDs however, meaning owners will not have to replace their existing film libraries.

The two sides made a last-ditch effort to forge a common format earlier this year, without success, to avoid confusion and inconvenience of the kind that occurred as a result of the VHS-Beta battle over videocassette formats two decades ago, Reuter informs.

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