After years of throwing pans at each other, Sony and Toshiba are set to kiss and make up and develop a universal standard for next-generation DVDs, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily.
The twin titans of technology have been busily promoting their own DVD formats, which are billed as offering “cinematic quality” images with the facility to include interactive entertainment.
The bad news is that the two systems are incompatible, so that a movie released on Toshiba’s format would not run on a Sony player and vice versa.
Mindful of the Betamax disaster of the 70s, the two companies have cuddled up in bed together and – after sharing a cigarette – are expected to shortly announce an accord on the joint development of a next-generation DVD.
When asked about the intimate details of the deal, a Sony Corp spokesman played coy, commenting, “as we have said before, we have been considering holding discussions with others over the next-generation DVD format.”
Toshiba were also in the mood to be all moody and mysterious, mumbling on about how “a single format would benefit consumers and we will continue to work toward that goal. We will continue necessary talks to achieve it.”
Next-generation DVD players use funky blue lasers to give a shorter wavelength than the red lasers currently used DVDs and CDs. The higher storage capacity lets the discs hold enough data to provide high-definition quality television pictures.
Two competing formats developed out of this technology, with Sony and Matsushita (Panasonic), introducing the Blu-ray standard in February 2002, with Toshiba and NEC Corp. following with the HD DVD standard.
The format war has already started causing divisions within home appliance makers and movie companies, with companies like Apple, Dell, Samsung, Walt Disney, Sony Pictures and Samsung supporting Blu-ray with Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers Studios coming out in support of HD DVD
The Nihon Keizai reported that Sony and Toshiba had stepped up closed-door negotiations around February to find a resolution to the problem.
After reaching a basic agreement that a unified standard would be desirable, they are now looking to develop a hybrid that takes advantage of each standard’s strengths, the newspaper added.
Sony and Toshiba have already started bending the ears of Walt Disney, AOL Time Warner and other Hollywood movie studios in a bid to win approval for a unified standard and pave the way for the signing of an agreement, the Nihon Keizai said.
And that’s good news for anyone with a large Betamax box in the attic.