The two leading backers of rival next-generation HD (high-definition) optical disc standards, Sony and Toshiba, are actively discussing the possibility of a single format, an industry source said Thursday.
The discussions are at an early stage and Sony and Toshiba, which support the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD formats respectively, have yet to come up with an agreement on a single format, the source said.
Should they manage to agree on a single format, and gain the acceptance of other companies backing the respective formats, it would benefit both consumers and the electronics and entertainment industries.
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A single format would mean consumers won't have to gamble when they buy a high-definition video player on whether the format will still be around in the future. It would also mean all high-definition movies are available on the same format and they might be cheaper because the market wouldn't be split.
The industry stands to immediately gain from a single format because the confusion or worry over duelling formats would be removed.
Video players for HD-DVD are expected on the market in the fourth quarter of this year along with several dozen movies, according to the most recent plans. The rival Blu-ray Disc format isn't expected until 2006 when players and movies will become available. The system will also be used in Sony's next-generation PlayStation console, which is also expected to be able to play movies and be launched next year.
The two companies wouldn't confirm or deny that talks are taking place:
Sony said in a statement that it remains open to discussions with supporters of other formats.
"The door isn't shutting, it's the opposite," said Taro Takamine, a Sony spokesman in Tokyo. He said the ability to expand the Blu-ray Disc format has always been one of its key points and that Sony would be open to talks if there was the possibility of creating a better solution for consumers.
Toshiba repeated its belief that a single format would be most beneficial for consumers and said it will work towards that goal.
"We will also engage in necessary discussions," said Keisuke Ohmori, a Toshiba spokesman in Tokyo.