Sony and Toshiba marshal their forces for another video war

A BITTER row between the Japanese companies Sony and Toshiba reached a new low at the weekend after Sony claimed the support of Japan Victor Company for its new Digital Video Disc (DVD), a proposed replacement for prerecorded video cassettes. But JVC denied it was in Sony's camp, eliciting crows of triumph from Toshiba. The dispute follows a similar scrap in January over the loyalty of Matsushita, maker of Panasonic.

The fight could lead to a replay of the Betamax-VHS video wars of the early 1980s. Both sides have accused the other of playing dirty in the battle to set a standard for a technology they hope will grab the lion's share of the multi-million pound video market. "Don't believe anything they say about us," said one.

Sony, which holds the basic patents for CD technology, and Philips, the Dutch electronics firm, are pushing a dual-layer, single-sided disc that can store enough data to hold a full-length feature film with a bit to spare. Toshiba has designed a system from scratch, avoiding Sony's key patents altogether. It can hold over 30 per cent more data on a pair of discs glued back to back, leaving room for two features, or a feature and a video game.

Although Sony disagrees most independent observers think Toshiba and its ally, Time-Warner, have the edge, at least for now. At the Toshiba product's launch in Hollywood, a parade of bosses from film studios and electronics manufacturers was led by Clint Eastwood, the actor and director. It now claims the support of 27 international companies, while most backers of Sony and Philips are smaller.

If the trend continues Sony could end up with a technology nobody wants - a repetition of the Betamax disaster. "Sony missed an amazing opportunity to make lots of money when VHS triumphed over Betamax in the early 1980s," said Paul Campbell, public relations manager for Sony Europe. "It took us down a peg or two and probably was the best thing that happened to our company."

Sony lost that battle because it tried to go it alone, retaining control of the technology. JVC distributed its VHS technology to a wide range of companies, so there was far more choice for consumers.

Mr Campbell insists that Sony tried hard to avoid making the same mistake this time. When Toshiba announced its standard, Sony evaluated it intensively for a month - prepared, if necessary, to drop its own project. "We immediately said if so many of the world's largest manufacturers think this is the way to go maybe we got it wrong, something the Sony of 10 years ago would not have done," he said.

But Sony concluded that production costs for Toshiba's standard would be too high, more than was justified by its extra storage capacity. Sony also argues it can cram more information in, using encoding software

Unless the two sides declare a truce, judgement will be left to customers. Ironically, both may lose. Some believe the idea of buying or renting a film will fall prey to interactive television.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London