The Next Gen DVD Format War Is Over (Maybe, Maybe Not)

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Tom Keating
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The Next Gen DVD Format War Is Over (Maybe, Maybe Not)

Everybody loves a format war; by "everybody" I really mean the media. Format wars are no fun for the companies backing each format, the companies manufacturing the competing products and the consumers who must ultimately vote (with their pocketbooks and wallets) to determine which side is the winner.

Now, according to a press release, the war is over -- maybe -- before it has begun.

(The war we are talking about is between two new high-capacity DVD formats: Blu-Ray, which is backed by Sony (see hardware below); and HD-DVD, backed by Toshiba. The reason for the battle? High-capacity DVD disks are needed to store High-Definition movies on a single disc.)

This according to UK-based New Medium Enterprises, which claims it has solved a technical production problem that makes it possible to produce a cheap multiple-layer DVD disc containing one film in different, competing formats.

What's really interesting is the production cost of the new disc, estimated at approximately 9 cents each -- compared with the 6 cents for a standard single-layer play-back DVD. (These figures are from ODMS, a Dutch company that is one of the world's leading makers of production lines for optical disks.

(So why do we shell out $20 for a DVD? Very nice profit margin for the big boys ...)

What a coincidence that this announcement comes only a week after three employees at movie studio Warner Bros. filed a patent for the application of multiple formats on a single DVD disc.

So out with the old and in with the new -- Is the new war going to be between the competing multi-layer technologies?

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