HD Asks Blu-ray to Enhance Compatibility

Blu-ray backer Hewlett-Packard (HP) is requesting that the Blu-ray Disc Association make it easier for proponents of the rival, incompatible HD DVD format to accept the Blu-ray format, given the growing perception (in some of the trade press, at least) that Blu-ray is starting to edge out its lone competitor fo
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Blu-ray backer Hewlett-Packard (HP) is requesting that the Blu-ray Disc Association make it easier for proponents of the rival, incompatible HD DVD format to accept the Blu-ray format, given the growing perception (in some of the trade press, at least) that Blu-ray is starting to edge out its lone competitor for the hearts and minds of the industry.

That perception may have been slightly enhanced in the past week when Forrester Research predicted that Blu-ray would eventually win the next-generation format war, according to published reports. But Forrester coupled its prediction with a warning that anything short of a universally acceptable standard for HD-level DVDs would result in a much slower acceptance of Blu-ray by the one party that counts the most in the equation: consumers.

HP requested that the Blu-ray group make it easier for consumers to transfer movies from DVD discs to home computers or other downloadable networks, an option standard called "mandatory managed copy," which allows for legal copying of DVD content to storage in the home. Theoretically, the video content could then be moved to the television monitor and other authorized dwelling devices for subsequent viewing and/or storage.

But one of the things that piracy-minded Hollywood and other content providers love about Blu-ray is its strict content protection rules that allow studios to lock content out of copying mode. In this respect, some argue, Blu-ray seems to be giving more priority to the needs and fears of content providers than to keeping things as simple and open as possible for the typical consumer.

Those favoring the easier copy-and-shift-content argument include Microsoft and Intel, which recently threw their support behind the HD DVD format. As of now, Microsoft's upcoming new Windows Vista operating system and Intel's Viiv entertainment technology would support HD DVD format drives. And Paramount Pictures threw a symbolic stick in the wheel spokes a couple of weeks ago when it said it would release its film titles in both formats.

Yet, there is another key conclusion from the Forrester report could make the format war moot altogether. Consumers, it said, appear to be moving past the era of physical discs (as evidenced by today's declining DVD sales), and instead, start to prefer simply downloading content via Internet broadband and other means, and at the same time finally catch on take to digital VOD services.