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Episode 6: Return Of The HD DVD

In the last installment of DVD WARS I played up Blu-Ray as taking the lead in this crazy new format war. I mentioned 20th Century Fox stepping forward to back Blu-Ray citing its privacy protection as major factor. Not too long after 20th Century Fox endorsed Blu-ray, another major studio stepped up to the plate and gave an endorsement as well. Paramount Studios, owned by Viacom, stated that it would endorse Blu-Ray but did not mention HD DVD. Now there is speculation whether Paramount is completely behind Blu-ray, or if they plan on releasing movies in both formats. Considering the reasons why 20th Century Fox endorsed Blu-Ray, you would think Paramount would want to back them 100% as well, right? The president of Paramount was quoted as saying:

“After more detailed assessment and new data on cost, manufacturability and copy protection solutions, we have now made the decision to move ahead with the Blu-ray format.”

Well it sounds to me that they are NOT considering HD DVD, the big words being 'copy protection solutions'.

As I stated in a previous article I believe that the major movie studios would decide the winner of this format war and thus far it seems Blu-ray has some major support, right? Well here comes HD DVD again picking up their own allies. Around the same time Paramount got in line behind 20th Century Fox to back Blu-ray HD DVD picked up two major supporters in Microsoft and Intel. Now for Blu-ray it’s nice that they are winning major support from the film industry but the worlds top software maker and largest chipmaker are nice friends to have too.

Just recently HP joined in on the festivities by urging Sony to include features important to PC makers and users. The general manager of personal storage at HP went on to say, “We’re still supporting Blu-ray but we’re very serious that we want these technologies. If in the end, they’re supported in one and not the other, we’ll have to make a choice.” I don’t know if Sony responds to these kinds of threats but it may make them raise a brow. What exactly are these features they are demanding? There are two technologies that HP is asking, one is known as mandatory managed copy, which allows users to copy high-definition movies onto PCs from discs, the other is a feature called iHD, which allows for interactive features. HP went on to say that this request was to ensure customers are not forced to choose between formats for DVDs. What a bunch of nice guys! Well I could see Sony bending a little to possibly add more features if it’s even possible but I would not expect them to reduce their copy protection features which is what it sounds like HP is doing.

To conclude Gerry Kaufhold, an analyst with In-Stat, said that if Blu-ray makers include the technologies requested by HP it would further put the ball in Blu-rays court. Which goes along with what Forrester Research has been hinting at when they said that Sony learned from it’s painful Betamax loss that the format with the most industry support will win. To me it looks like they’re 50/50 but Sony seems pretty confident. Kiyoshi Nishitani the senior vice president at Sony Corp made this statement “I’m not really worried, but I can’t tell you right now why that is, In the end there will be one format.” Yeah that would be nice but I’ll believe it when I see it.

To be continued…