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Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Coming Standards War

In the near future, movie goers can have the same interactive experience typically available Iin multiplex. Blu-Ray technology can enable viewers go from watching an action movie to participating in an interactive game based on the movie, or he could switch to a 3-D version of a particular scene. Massive storage capacities up to 200 gigabytes supported by Blu Ray- provide an almost endless capacity for add-ons by home audiences. Sony stated that in fact, part of the justification for acquiring MGM was the profits to be realized from reissuing the 4,100 films in MGM's library in the Blu-Ray format. Sony has a critical mass of movies that it can release on Blu-Ray. Aside from its own titles, Disney, 20th Century Fox, and Lions Gate have agreed to release their titles on Blu-Ray. Warner Bros. Entertainment, announced it would release films on the Blu-ray format as well. Among six major Hollywood Studios- all but Universal have announced support the BD format. Paramount, Universal and probably Warner will release HD-DVD titles. A studio wanting its high-definition DVDs to be playable on personal computers - or for that matter on PlayStation 3 – will have to issue them in the Blu-Ray format. Next, almost all of the leading computer manufacturers, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple, are committed to using Blu-Ray, though they may have show some support for HDTV as well. The situations of Sony and Toshiba are not symmetrical. For Sony, the Blu-Ray is an integral part of its overall strategy. For Toshiba, the HD-DVD is just another product they manufacture. A company reaching an accommodating deal on licensing fees could also end up making money by manufacturing the Blu-Ray DVDs.

The PC camp has not been a silent spectator - HP wants to make the transition to the next generation of DVD technology be as painless as possible. HP recently asked the Blu-ray Disc Assn. to add software that will make its Blu-ray DVD standard similar to that of a rival camp called HD DVD, empowering consumers wanting to legally rip movie DVDs to a PC hard drive - standards already included in HD DVD. By pushing for adoption of the same software used to add interactive features to HD DVDs, such as the ability to add the latest movie trailers, movie studios wouldn't have to throw extra money at supporting two approaches. As the Bweek article shows, Microsoft and Intel recently announced that they would break from their neutral stance to back HD DVD. Key Chinese manufacturers said they planned to have HD DVD products on the market in 2006. The next-gen DVD wars were reignited, making it increasingly clear that consumers would soon be faced with two kinds of DVD players when they go to the local retailer. Meenu Sarin provides a good perspective about the impending standards wars involving consumer electronics players, studios & the PC industry and she predicts that only one standard could win. I think that a unified standard would forestall the first full-blown standards war since VHS vs. Betamax. A single standard would certainly be good for consumers & Movie studios also stand to gain because they wouldn't be forced to make films available in both formats.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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