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Bringing Down the DVD House

17 Apr, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I was cleaning out my office the other day when I came across an ad-filled supplement to Billboard magazine from the middle 1970s, honoring the many advances and surefire success of 8-track tape.

It's one of many notable failures to dot our checkered technological past, along with Quad sound, the Dynaflex LP, the Beta videocassette and, most recently, Divx.

If the next-generation DVD camps don't get their you-know-what together and either work out a compromise or agree to back one of the three competing formats, membership in this elite club — already preparing a seat for Super CD or DVD-Audio or perhaps both — could swell even more.

Here we are, several years after the concept of a next-generation, high-definition-ready DVD was first floated, and we've still got three banner-wavers vying to be the standard.

Two of them use a blue laser, while a third uses the tried-and-proven red laser, just like the current generation of DVD players.

Mucking things up is that unlike in the days leading up to the launch of first-generation DVD, there is no outspoken leader who can hammer away at all sides until someone caves and we have one format that all clearly champion.

To paraphrase the old Chicago song, “Harry Truman”: America needs you, Warren Lieberfarb — or at least a man like you with vision and a big, powerful clenched fist to drive that vision home to those who can't, or won't, see.

Hopefully that vacuum of leadership will soon be filled. Word has it that Ben Feingold, who was a half-step behind Lieberfarb in advocacy of DVD, is getting ready to step out as the poster boy for the Blu-ray camp, backed by mighty Sony, parent company of his studio, Columbia TriStar.

If he does, the Blu-ray folks will have a decided advantage in the hype arena, where format battles are typically fought. Feingold is intelligent, articulate and savvy, and if he does assume the role of Blu-ray champion the smart money would likely follow him.

Just picture it: Warren Lieberfarb as the architect of DVD, and Ben Feingold as the guy behind its remodel.

I like it already.

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