Sony has problems at the moment. There was a time when it was officially the second most world known brand name in the world – behind Coca Cola. But now, after failing to build upon the success of the Walkman, losing dominance of the portable music industry to Apple, with its share of the LCD markets diminishing, and with margins from the sales of consumer electronics disappearing down a silicon plug hole, at least it’s got both its next games machines and Blu Ray DVD.

DVD, which is approaching its tenth birthday now, (the war for dominance between the original two DVD standards never got off the ground and was settled in board rooms in 1997) is after all getting long in its tooth.

DVD offers a mere 4.7gigobytes of storage, and is set to be replaced by a new standard.

But which standard? At the present there are two: There’s the HD-DVD from Toshiba, and Blu-ray from Sony.

We have long considered that the inclusion of Blu Ray DVD in the new Sony PlayStation 3 which promises to be so much more than just a games machine – offering music, video, broadband internet access etc, and due for launch next spring, will give Sony an unassailable lead. It has its allies too: Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Apple Computer, Vivendi Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney, Electronic Arts, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp and Sun Microsystems.

But, then again, the Toshiba camp, which also boasts Sanyo and NEC on its side, seems to have the advantage of time. The first HD-DVD has already been announced by Toshiba, and world-wide roll out is set for the first quarter of next year. Blue ray is not likely to be available anywhere until next spring.

But now, the Toshiba format has got two more big advantages going for it: Microsoft and Intel. The two companies have joined its camp. Richard Doherty, Microsoft’s program manager for media entertainment convergence said: “There are several reasons the two companies went with HD DVD. HD DVD requires that movies may be copied to a consumer’s hard drive, making it easier for people to send movies around home networks; HD DVD supports regular DVD recordings on the flip side of the disc, letting people sell hybrid discs to consumers who have DVD players today but fear their discs will be obsolete; and HD DVD offers more capacity.”

But Sony’s ally, Philips, hit back. Marty Gordon, vice president of Philips Electrics said: “This announcement does little to shift the momentum that’s been building for the Blu-ray Disc. It has dramatically more support from the consumer electronics industry, the PC manufacturers and the games hardware manufacturing side, as well as strong support form movie studios, music companies and game software developers.”

Blue-ray will boast both 25 gigabyte and a dual layered 50 gigabyte disc. HD- DVD, on the other hand, starts at 15 gigabytes, but the Toshiba product announced last week will offer 30 gigs.

© Investment & Business News 2013