The battle for the fortunes of the next DVD empire seems to be less of a battle week by week, depending on where you look. If the widely quoted and influential British weekly magazine, The Economist, is on target, the expensive fight to become the next-generation DVD format for the HD age has "started to lean heavily in favor" of Blu-ray, the Sony format, over Toshiba's preference, HD DVD.
The international publication, thus, joins a growing media chorus (much of it online) unofficially declaring Blu-ray the winner, with a format launch date still set for the first half of 2006 (HD Notebook, Nov. 2, 2005).
According to The Economist, some 70 companies so far have contributed intellectual property to the Blu-ray scheme (while HD DVD has almost as many contributors). But only Universal Studios is considered solely committed to HD DVD, while the others are committed either exclusively to Blu-ray or to both formats.
Although everyone seems to recall a generation ago when Sony lost the fierce stand-off between its Betamax format and the eventual survivor, VHS, Sony also suffered a less-publicized defeat (of sorts) only a decade ago when the Toshiba-favored current DVD format beat out a Sony-favored alternative. So Sony has a lot to lose, in more ways than one, if Blu-ray doesn't succeed.
Although potentially lucrative licensing fees have not been announced for Blu-ray (if, in fact, it does prevail), published reports suggest that the next round of fees likely will be somewhat higher that the current ones--which are $12 for a DVD player, $5 for a computer, and about 15 cents for each disc sold.
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