The DVD drive standard consortium of large manufacturers has collapsed after Sony and Philips said they would go it alone, leaving remaining consortium members Matsushita, Toshiba and Hitachi to fight back.
In April, 10 members of the consortium thrashed out a standard after long-standing battles over the format between Toshiba and Sony. Then followed an extended argument, prompted by Hollywood, over encryption standards and measures to prevent pirating of movies.
Hewlett Packard, a member of the original consortium, said it would back Sony and Philips. The resulting alliance will develop a 3Gb drive, while the Matsushita camp is going for the 2.6Gb format.
The waters were further muddied when NEC announced plans to produce a competing optical system. The company, which is also a member of the DVD forum, said it would introduce its own proprietary optical drive next year with twice the recording capacity of DVD drives.
Peter Scatchard, European marketing director at Hitachi, said the proponents of the different standards will start to push products to market quickly. ?It looks to me as if we will see the same muddy waters as we have between the LS150 and the Zip drive in terms of incompatibilities. Clearly, Sony and Philips must be backing the gamble that if they can rush the product through, it will set the standard. That may work if we allow it to, but I doubt we will.?
The move will worry consumers, retailers, vendors and the PC channel, he said. ?This is splitting on the familiar fault line before the DVD consortium was stitched together. There?s no doubt consumers? confidence will be shaken. Maybe Sony and Philips think now is the time to make the break and establish the standard format.?
NEC?s move looks set to make the situation irretrievable as different factions pursue their own proprietary optical drive solutions in an attempt to capture the potentially lucrative market. It is also likely to prove a temporary setback to Hollywood plans to sell films on optical platters.
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