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Toshiba open to re-opening HD DVD/Blu-ray merger talks

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Toshiba has once again said it's open to the development of a single, unified next-generation optical disc format to end the battle between the HD DVD format it backs and the Sony-led Blu-ray Disc camp.

"We have not given up on a unified format. We would like to seek ways for unifying the standards if opportunities arise," Toshiba president Atsutoshi Nishida said during the company's annual shareholders' meeting this week, Reuters news agency reports.

We're sure Sony's open to the idea too, but since companies from both sides of the battlefield met last year to parley a truce and failed to reach an accord, we don't expect anything to come of it this time either.

The fight raises the ghost of an earlier conflict, Betamax vs VHS, but the battles are very different. This time round, there's more to play for than the home video market - digital media now extend to computer-oriented data use and to content for games consoles. As the DVD+R/RW vs DVD-R/RW vs DVD-RAM battle has shown, there's room for (relatively) peaceful co-existence, and if one format fails to dominate the home video market, there are plenty of others in which it can take a lead over its rival.

Crucially, it won't be long before optical drives arrive that can handle both formats, and once such hardware goes mainstream, disc formats largely cease to matter since whatever you buy will play. That's what rendered the recordable and rewriteable DVD war largely irrelevant, and it will eventually do the same for Blu-ray vs HD DVD. ®

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