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Hi-Def DVD rivals heading for compromise

Hallelujah! There may not be a high-definition DVD format war after all. The backers of the two rival next-generation standards, HD-DVD and Blu-ray, have apparently agreed to work out a new, common standard.

The Asahi Shimbun reports:

Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp., which lead the two groups that back Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, respectively, have started talks to work out a new standard.

The stakes are huge and time is running short.

Sources said the two sides are aiming to reach a compromise within a month. If the agreement comes early enough, products based on a single next-generation format will hit stores in the latter half of the next year.

If not, there could be a repeat of the videocassette bloodletting, when VHS squeezed Betamax out of the market.
While this decision makes eminent sense, I'm frankly amazed that two groups of companies with so much invested in their own proprietary standards could agree to wipe the slate clean and start all over again on common ground.

While both groups will have to write off some wasted investment in scrapped standards if this new plan goes ahead, they should both ultimately benefit from the massive scale of the single, broad market they will be creating. But the real winners will be consumers, who won't have to worry about choosing between two incompatible formats for the latest hardware and software. Every now and then, the little guy wins.




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