Sony Computer Entertainment’s Ken Kutaragi has made statements suggesting that any prospect of creating a unified next generation disc format, incorporating both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD technology, is now over, with special regard to the forthcoming PlayStation 3.
Talks between Sony, Toshiba and the various other companies involved with the two opposing formats were thought to be proceeding well as of last April
. The talks faltered though once Toshiba became adamant that it would not accept Blu-ray’s disc structure as the basis for the proposed unified format.
Now Kutaragi, the so-called “father of PlayStation”, has said in a Japanese press conference that he is going ahead with plans to use the Blu-ray format for the PlayStation 3. "There’s very little chance that the negotiations will go through", he said of the now stalled talks for a unified format. Yoshihide Fujii, managing director at Toshiba, is also pessimistic about any prospect of a deal, saying "Toshiba has no plans to agree with Sony."
Although the two technologies are similar the Blu-ray technology has the benefit of additional capacity, being able to record 50GB of data, compared to just 30GB for the HD-DVD. The Toshiba format though is cheaper and easier to produce and neither company now seems willing to give up their own format’s advantage in order to create a hybrid technology.
Some analysts had feared that the lack of agreement could impact upon the PlayStation 3’s release date, confirmed to be in Spring 2006 for initial territories. Indeed, Kutaragi has indicated that a need to finalize the design for the PlayStation 3 has forced him to give up on the hope of a unified format and go ahead with the original plans to use the Blu-ray technology.
The PlayStation 2’s ability to play DVDs, when stand-alone DVD players were still relatively expensive, played a major part in the console’s early success. Sony are no doubt hoping that the ability of the PlayStation 3 to play Blu-ray discs will offer a similar incentive – although, if Toshiba’s HD-DVD format proves dominant, supporting the next generation equivalent of the Betamax video format could well end up having a negative effect in terms of consumer perception.