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From Monday 1/26/04 Wall Street Journal:


U.S. Probes DVD-Standards Group


Justice Department Studies

Industry Body's Actions

Pushing Videodisc Formats

By NICK WINGFIELD, JOHN R. WILKE and PHRED DVORAK

Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL



In an increasingly contentious battle to create a global standard for the next generation of digital videodiscs, the U.S. Department of Justice has started a preliminary inquiry into the activities of one industry group, led by Sony Corp, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Philips Electronics NV, that is vying for the lead, people familiar with the matter said.


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The Justice Department is looking into a coalition of companies known as the Blu-ray group, people familiar with the matter say. Founded by Sony, Matsushita, Philips and seven other major electronics companies, the group is promoting the Blu-ray disc, a format that can store about six times as much data as a conventional DVD, enough for more than four hours of high-definition video. A person close to the DVD Forum, an official standards-setting body for DVDs that includes hardware and software companies, said the Justice Department is looking into whether the group's members potentially acted in concert to impede the forum's technical progress.


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The Blu-ray group is squaring off with a similar technology called high-definition DVD, or HD DVD, promoted most prominently by Japan's Toshiba Corp. and NEC Corp. The DVD Forum has been the venue for a face-off between the camps. The members of the Blu-ray group, along with Toshiba and NEC, belong to the DVD Forum. In meetings in November, the forum's steering committee provided a big win to Toshiba and NEC by endorsing their HD DVD design.


But the approval came only after a struggle between camps favoring their own DVD designs. A person close to the organization said members of the Blu-ray group within the DVD Forum abstained from voting, effectively blocking approval of Toshiba and NEC's proposal. The proposal was endorsed in a later vote by forum members after the group's voting rules were modified so abstentions wouldn't count. The Blu-ray group didn't submit its own design to the forum.


Executives involved in the forum acknowledge the bitterness between the two camps. "If fighting begins, it's difficult to compromise," said Hisashi Yamada, the Toshiba engineer in charge of the company's next-generation DVD efforts, in an interview earlier this month.


One danger is that a drawn-out rivalry between two formats could cause consumers to put off buying equipment, which will remain expensive until it is produced in mass volumes. Toshiba has said it wants to introduce HD DVD players next year for about $1,000, though recordable machines will be more expensive. Last year Sony introduced an early Blu-ray disc recorder in Japan that costs about $4,200.


Computer industry companies, too, are getting into the mix. Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. have come out in support of the Blu-ray format, while Microsoft Corp. has been lobbying members of the DVD Forum to use its Windows Media video software for storing movies on high-definition DVDs.


Hollywood studios, too, will hold huge sway over the technology that wins as they must decide the format on which to distribute their movies. Some industry executives believe the studios will attempt to put off the transition to a high-definition DVD format as long as possible as sales of standard DVDs still are churning out big revenues. DVD players have been among the most rapidly adopted electronics devices in history, jumping to half of all U.S. homes from about a quarter of homes two years ago, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.


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The rest of the article here: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB1..._whats_news_us
 

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Originally posted by ptrubey
Computer industry companies, too, are getting into the mix. Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. have come out in support of the Blu-ray format, while Microsoft Corp. has been lobbying members of the DVD Forum to use its Windows Media video software for storing movies on high-definition DVDs.
I'm a little confused about something here. I'm sure I've read authoritative sounding postings in this forum that stated Blu-ray licensing would not allow Blu-ray drives for PCs. If that is true, why would any PC manufacturer support Blu-ray?
 
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