Sony executive predicts DVD compromise “unlikely”

Efforts to reach a compromise in the looming HD DVD format are likely to fail, a top Sony executive has predicted.

Ken Kutaragi, who helped invent Sony’s PlayStation game console, said creating a single standard for new DVDs that can store more HD movies and pictures than current discs is “unlikely,” the Bloomberg News reported.

Sony and Matsushita Electric Industrial, which lead a group that developed the Blu-ray disc, have been in talks to unify their format with the HD DVD disc promoted by Toshiba, NEC, and Sanyo. The competing formats for the new DVDs promise HD pictures, better sound quality, more capacity and improved copyright protection than standard DVDs.

The chances of unifying the formats are “almost none,” Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, said during a meeting with reporters in Tokyo.

Sony is counting on the support of film studios and game software developers to make Blu-ray the dominant standard, and already has the backing of Walt Disney and Electronic Arts. The Tokyo-based company is trying to avoid a repeat of past failures, such as its Betamax format losing out to VHS as the video standard more than two decades ago.

Both sides have highlighted the problems in creating a unified standard for the discs, which use a blue laser to read and record information. Blu-ray’s recording layer is located 0.1mm from the surface of the disc, compared with 0.6mm for HD DVD.

With the dialogue focusing on 0.1 and 0.6, there is no way for the two sides to divide things fairly, Kutaragi said.

Meanwhile, Sanyo Electric has quietly joined the Blu-ray consortium, but will also remain allied with the rival HD-DVD group, reported IDG News Service.

Sanyo joined the Bly-ray group because it’s planning to produce components for both formats, according to a spokesman. It has been planning to produce optical pick-ups for both formats since it began researching the technology. The company still plans to produce consumer players based only on HD-DVD.

Sanyo joined the Blu-ray camp on 29 April, but no announcement was made of its membership.

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