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
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing

Other places that have held independence referendums
Life and Style

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week