Little High-Def Compromise13 Jan, 2005 By: Stephanie Prange
The two high-def disc camps showed no signs of compromise at this month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
Despite calls for unity from Buena Vista Home Entertainment chief Bob Chapek in his speech as president of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group at that group's CES press event, competing press conferences by the two groups proved the industry has a long way to go if it wants to join forces for a next-generation launch.
“I think it's safe to say that nobody really wants a format war,” Chapek said at the DEG press conference. “It's just a question of what the respective parties are willing to concede in order to make such a war a moot point before it ever gets started.
“Of course, it's easier to say that the formats should unify than to actually make it happen — particularly given the significant physical differences in the formats.”
Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD proponents brushed aside the possibility of joining the two technologies for one format as was done in the early development of DVD.
“[Blu-ray] is radically different from the other proposal,” said Panasonic's Richard Doherty. “[HD-DVD] is backing timidly into the future,” he said, while Blu-ray is a “quantum leap” ahead.
“It's so important not to go halfway,” noted Chapek at the Blu-ray Disc press event. Buena Vista has come out favoring Blu-ray.
The HD-DVD camp denied a possibility of compromise as well, and, like the Blu-ray representatives, pooh-poohed the idea of a hardware device that would be able to play both formats. The HD-DVD group also forced the question by announcing a strong slate of titles to debut on HD-DVD in the fall (Video Store Magazine, Jan. 9-15). Warner Home Video president and HD-DVD backer Jim Cardwell stressed the format's “real world benefits,” including ease of manufacture and proven durability.
Blu-ray announced no titles and no firm date for a software launch.
Andy Parsons, SVP at Blu-ray backer Pioneer Electronics, downplayed the title announcement, adding Beta was first to market and ultimately lost out to VHS.
“I'd much rather do it right than do it quick,” Parsons said.It was also widely accepted that Beta — like many contend with Blu-ray — was a better technology than VHS, and it still lost. “[Beta] had fewer companies supporting it,” Parsons noted. Indeed, the Blu-ray Disc Association has nearly 100 members.