Digital video discs new battleground for giants
Wednesday 25 January 1995
Discs, which have a very high picture and sound quality, are expected to replace video tapes. The consequences of the two-sided fight to produce the disc could prove as costly and damaging as the 1980s battle over VHS and Betamax tape systems.
Sony, which developed Betamax, lost heavily in the Eighties to Matsushita, the originator of the now universal VHS tape format.
Toshikatsu Yamawaki, managing director of Matsushita, said yesterday that the group's first products would be available in the autumn next year at about $500 (£320) for players and $30 (£19.50) for discs.
Amid this electronics battle-ground, Microsoft, the world's largest computer software company, headed by Bill Gates, might inadvertently end up with the casting vote that decides which system becomes the industry standard worldwide.
On Monday, Microsoft announced a collaborative alliance with Sony to develop innovations in consumer electronics, such as interactive video systems. However, the company is non-committal over whether it will yet support the disc format from Sony and Philips.
Yesterday's development comes a month after Sony and Philips, the third- and second-largest consumer electronics groups in the world, revealed plans to produce a single-sided disc capable of storing 135 minutes of motion picture video.
The Sony and Philips disc can store 7.4 gigabytes of digital information. While that is 11 times more than the 650-megabyte capacity of traditional compact discs, it is less than the 10 gigabytes that will be available on the rivals' planned two-sided product. Multiple-language soundtracks on films will be possible on either format.
The rival group to Sony said its format, to be known as super-density disc, offered the image and sound quality and storage capacity required by film producers and technical staff. Toshiba, which has a 6 per cent stake in Time Warner, added that the group's format allowed 270 minutes of motion picture video to be stored on both sides of a single disc the same size as a compact disc.
Toshiba's camp also includes Matsushita's MCA subsidiary, Hitachi, Pioneer Electronic Corporation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Thomson Consumer Electronics. Alain Prestat, chairman of Thomson, added that Walt Disney was likely to approve the group's disc format.
Despite this show of strength, a Sony spokesman claimed: "Our system maintains compatibility since the system is similar to the current CD-ROM system." Existing CD-ROM material could be played on the system proposed by Sony and Philips while the rivals' system would require new production technology, he said.
However, there were signs from Philips that it was fearful of becoming involved in a protracted and damaging fight.
A spokeswoman said: "We're still aiming at one format. It's in no one's interest to have different formats."
- 1 Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
iJobs Money & Business
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...
Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...