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Blu-ray starting to edge ahead of HD-DVD

Says Sony CEO

Sony chairman and CEO Howard Stringer today stated that the greater storage capacity of the Blu-ray Disc format is giving it an edge over HD-DVD, at least when it comes to earning the backing of Hollywood studios.

"I begin to sense in Blu-ray that the pendulum is swinging," he said at a briefing with reporters in Tokyo. "It's swinging for one clear reason, and that is that when you bring in new technology, do you go for cheaper, transitional [technology] or do you take a chance on future-proof, high technology that will keep you going for many, many years to come?"

Features such as multichannel audio, multiple language tracks and interactivity are all increasing the amount of data that needs to be stored on discs, Stringer said, so studios will come to realise the 50GB dual-layer Blu-ray Disc suits their needs better than the 30GB dual-layer HD-DVD format.

"This capacity, which seemed too luxurious a year ago, suddenly seems to be absolutely necessary," he said.

The comments are not surprising, coming as they do from Sony's top executive. The company has been Blu-ray Disc's biggest backer and is due to use the format in its upcoming PlayStation 3 console, as well as a consumer video disc player due out in October. Last week Sony Pictures Entertainment, the company's film arm, began releasing titles on Blu-ray Disc.

However, all is not clear on the horizon.

Sony has been beaten to market by Samsung, which last week began selling a Blu-ray Disc player. Sony was originally due to launch its player in June, then rescheduled it to August, and the player is now not expected until October. Also last week, Samsung said it will consider selling a player later this year that supports both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD.

Things are also cloudy for the entire HD (high-definition) film disc market. Having two battling formats isn't good for business, and consumers may decide to wait until a winning format emerges, rather than risk buying a player and discs for a format that is taken off the market.

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