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News in Brief

BUSINESSWEEK claimed Apple will soon announce the sale of download movies to own through its iTunes site at prices ranging from $14.99 for newer releases and $9.99 for catalogue, initially sourced from Disney where Apple’s Steve Jobs is shareholder. Other reports claimed that Apple is to pay $14 wholesale for the new releases, a price that has apparently angered Wal-mart, which pays $17, and which has a 40% share of the $17 billion US DVD market.

STRATEGY Analytics forecasts that the number of households using some form of digital TV in Western Europe will grow to 75 million this year, up from 56 million at the end of 2005. By 2010, DTV will be used by almost 127 million households in the region – close to 77 percent of all TV homes. The growth of DTT and IPTV threatens cable and satellite operators who have historically dominated pay TV in Europe and other regions. These new platforms will also spur millions of consumers to access TV programming from multiple sources, especially in countries where hybrid services combining free DTT channels with broadband-delivered IPTV content are being launched.

18.3 MILLION households in Western Europe added broadband during 2005, nearly three million more than the 15.4 million who subscribed the previous year, says Strategy Analytics. Much of this growth came from larger markets including Germany, where Local Loop Unbundling has spurred DSL competition, and the UK, where both consolidation and new entrants to the market has stimulated competition. Strategy Analytics projects that another 16 million European households will take up broadband by the end of this year, bringing the total base of subscribers to 73.2 million. The analysts project that 63% of all households, or 108 million households in Western Europe will use broadband to connect their PCs to the Internet by the end of the decade.

DAEWOO Electronics, the South Korean maker of set top boxes and DVD recorders, which employs 285 people at its Antrim, Northern Ireland plant, said that it was asking for voluntary redundancies where possible. In a statement, the company said it was unable to compete with cheaper Turkish and Chinese imports. The company has been manufacturing consumer electronics in Antrim town since 1989 and at one time employed nearly 1,000 people from the surrounding areas. At one stage, the plant was the second largest manufacturer of video recorders in Europe.

VESTEL A.S., a leading manufacturer of consumer electronic products for the European market, has selected the LSI DoMiNo DMN-8603 DVD recorder system processor for its new line of DVD recorder products. The market-leading feature set and high integration level of the DMN-8603 processor enables Vestel to offer affordable DVD recorders with superior audio and video quality that are optimized for Europe, the largest regional DVD recorder market.

ACCORDING to Arizona-based In-Stat market research firm, Europeans are expected to purchase more than 8 million DVD recorders in 2006 - almost 40 percent of total worldwide demand. Not only is Europe the largest DVD recorder market, it continues to be one of the fastest growing, with an annual growth rate expected to be approximately 50 percent.

ELEPHANT Dream, Europe's first commercially-available HD DVD title was produced using Sonic's Scenarist advanced interactive authoring and CineVision high-definition encoding solutions. Developed by authoring studio Imagion AG of Trierweiler, Germany, the title is built around the computer-animated 3D short Elephants Dream, which was created by an international creative team led by Ton Roosendaal, chairman of Blender Foundation. Special features on the title include on-the-fly menus and scene selection, picture-in-picture, and an interactive side-by-side comparison of HD and SD video quality.

XIRIS Automation Inc., a leading provider of inspection systems (Ident Code Verification, Print Check, Disc Orientation and Graphics Verification) for the optical media industry has announced that and ACTiM, an agent for optical disc equipment, will represent and distribute Xiris products in Italy. ACTiM sells machines for production, printing, packaging and QC of optical discs, as well as spare parts, wear parts and consumables. It is also active in sourcing, storing and distributing fine chemicals, intermediates and process aids for several other industrial applications.

SOME are claiming that the format war is over and that HD DVD is the winner by virtue of the fact that the first porn film to be releasesd in a next-generation format has gone for HD DVD. Over in Japan GLAY'z, known for its "Brand-new-century-visual-super-exprotion-entertainment," just released the world's first adult film on HD-DVD entitled Slave Room. The movie includes both an HD DVD and standard DVD version. It retails for about $52.

THE internet has been buzzing with speculation that to compete with Sony's Blu-ray, Microsoft will eventually roll out HD DVD games. Not so according to Microsoft. Microsoft's John Porcaro: "I'm seeing lots of speculation about our upcoming HD DVD Player, and whether we have plans to publish HD DVD games. The answer is no. Since announcing the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player accessory at E3 2006, we've been clear that it is designed exclusively for playing HD DVD movies. It will not play games on HD DVD." Porcaro explains that the company cannot see an advantage to switch from current DVD to HD DVD. Cost go up and load times increase. Seems like Microsoft is betting on games and not formats.

JAPANESE users of Blu-ray DVD players will be able to view US films because there will be a single region code, reports. The discs and the players, said the wire, will use a single Japanese-US region code. The reason given is that Hollywood now releases its putative blockbusters simultaneously worldwide.

A LAWSUIT by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (Panasonic) against Taiwan's CMC Magnetics Corp. covers three patents related to recordable DVD technology, according to the court complaint. Panasonic filed the lawsuit against CMC last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California but details or a copy of the complaint were not immediately available. The three patents named in the complaint are: U.S. patent 4,847,132, which covers a protective layer for a reversible data storage disc; patent 5,790,487, which relates to optical data recording media; and patent RE 37,185, which covers an optical recording head for use in an optical disc data storage system. Panasonic asserts that CMC and two U.S. affiliates, Hotan and KHypermedia, infringed on all three patents. The company is asking the court for damages relating to the infringement and an injunction against further infringement.