Sony 'open' to Blu-ray Disc/HD DVD bonding talks

Peace in our time?

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Sony has held an olive branch out to proponents of the HD DVD blue-laser optical disc format, inviting them to discuss how their preferred format could come together with its choice, Blu-ray Disc.

Speaking to Reuters, Sony's head of next-generation DVD development, Yukinori Kawauchi said the company wanted to avoid a clash of formats. "From the point of view to provide the best service to the consumer one format is better than two," he said. "We're open to discussions."

But he admitted no specific approach has yet been made proposing a method by which the two technologies could be brought closer together.

Nor, it has to be said, is such an approach likely. Both camps maintain their solution best meets the needs of consumers, content providers and disc manufacturers, and both have said their two formats are fundamentally incompatible. Both acknowledge that a format war is not a good idea, but each group's solution is simply to suggest the other finds a large rock somewhere and crawls under it.

BD is certainly the most technically sophisticated of the two formats, though that brings production issues that the HD DVD camp claims to have solved with its more DVD-like offering. HD DVD also has the benefit of a clear launch programme, with movie studios already naming the titles they will release on the format later this year. There's the strength of the DVD brand, too.

But HD DVD lacks the capacity of BD - 15GB to 25GB per layer - which may make it less suitable for the ever-longer movies Hollywood seems to favour these days, particularly using the higher resolution incarnations of the HDTV specification. BD also has some better-known names behind it, not only Sony, but Philips, Apple, Dell, HP, Sharp, Panasonic and Hitachi. Sony's 'PlayStation 3', due to be unveiled next month, will support BD.

None of them may want a war, but that's what they've got. Sony's offer to talk reconciliation is unlikely to bring peace in our time. ®

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