Fierce battles of format war;Blu-ray Disc site hacked

By Margarita Snegireva. The official Blu-ray Disc site was hacked last Friday to send visitors to the official Web site of arch-rival format HD DVD.

According to a Blu-ray Disc Association representative, the group's own investigation into the hack reveals that it appears to be the work of a talented enthusiast who's an HD DVD proponent. The BDA says it discovered the hack within an hour after it happened on Friday; within another hour, the site was back up as normal.

The DVD Forum (which was chaired by Toshiba) was deeply split over whether to go with the more expensive blue lasers or not. In addition, the proposed Blu-ray disc with its protective caddy was both expensive and physically different from DVD, posing several problems. In March 2002, the forum voted to approve a proposal endorsed by Warner Bros. and other motion picture studios that involved compressing HD content onto dual-layer DVD-9 discs. However, in spite of this decision, the DVD Forum's Steering Committee announced in April that it was pursuing its own blue-laser high-definition solution. In August, Toshiba and NEC announced their competing standard Advanced Optical Disc. It was finally adopted by the DVD forum and renamed HD DVD the next year, after being voted down twice by Blu-ray Disc Association members, prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to make preliminary investigations into the situation. Three new members had to be invited and the voting rules changed before the vote finally passed.

In the mean time, Sony spun off Professional Disc for DATA from the Blu-ray project. It was essentially Blu-ray with higher-quality media and components. The devices were too expensive for the consumer mass market. Instead, it was aimed at the professional data storage space market as a replacement for their line of 5.25" MO drives. It was announced in October 2003, with the first devices shipping in December of the same year

The costs of a format war are large, both for consumers and for the industry. In an attempt to avoid starting one, the Blu-ray Disc Association and the DVD Forum attempted to negotiate a compromise in early 2005. One of the issues was that the Blu-ray camp wanted to use a Java-based platform for interactivity (BD-J), while the DVD Forum was promoting Microsoft's "iHD" (which became HDi). A much larger issue, though, was the physical formats of the discs themselves; the Blu-ray member companies did not want to risk losing billions of dollars in royalties as they had done with standard DVD. An agreement seemed close, but negotiations proceeded slowly

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