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News in Brief

SONY will postpone the scheduled launch for its PlayStation 3 (PS3) game console from this spring until August, as the company is facing several issues with its production plans, especially concerning its inclusion of a Blu-ray Disc drive in the PS3, according to Sony's Taiwan-based contract manufacturers. Even with specifications for the Blu-ray Disc format being finalized, the high price of the drive will contribute toward Sony delaying its launch. According to a report from Merrill Lynch, the cost of the Blue-ray disc drive will be US$350 (£200), while rival Microsoft is currently selling its entire Xbox 360 game console starting from US$399. According to the contract manufacturers, with Microsoft not having to contend with Sony for much of this year, it may launch a version of its Xbox 360 featuring a HD DVD drive for about US$600 (£345).

NEW Medium Enterprises, Inc. , a technology company in the field of High Definition digital storage developing the Versatile Multilayer Disc (VMD) has appointed Dr. Philip David as a Director to further strengthen its board as the company enters its next phase of growth. Since retiring as a Professor at MIT, Dr. David has held Directorships in the banking, technology and oil industries. Over the past 20 years he has served as a Director of NXT, an innovator of flat panel speaker technology and products based in Huntingdon, UK; Marfin Bank in Athens, Greece; IRI International, a Houston, USA-based company specializing in oil drilling equipment; the Fairchild Corporation.

FALLING prices for DVD hardware and software along with increased studio spending on DVD marketing — an average spend of $6.1 million per title, up $800,000 from $5.3 million in 2002 — drove up total consumer spending on home video in 2004, an increase of 7.5% per household (including rental and sales) The growth of DVD sales, up almost 30%, for new releases and catalog titles continue as VHS sales wane, down 42% for 2004. Datta from Kegan Research's latest report The State of Home Video 2005.

INTERVIDEO announced that the new Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft Corporation includes the award-winning DVD engine from InterVideo's WinDVD for video playback. InterVideo previously announced the licensing agreement with Microsoft last May.

WHILE Sony's PlayStation 3 might well be the first Blu-ray device most consumers see, industry supporters of the technology are setting their sights much higher. They are looking to the possibility of a 100GB disc being available soon. TDK, one of the key supporters of the next-generation DVD formats, says that it will be making a major play for the storage sector, both through direct sales and via the network of specialist storage resellers and value-add resellers. "Our target markets are the authoring and pre mastering sectors," said Jean-Paul Eekhout, corporate strategy director at TDK, and vice chairman of the European Blu-ray PR committee. "Data storage is going to be key, and maybe jukebox systems. There's also an underestimated market for video enthusiasts getting into high definition recording."

APPLE has DVD Studio Pro 4 to version 4.0.3. The update is available as a 6.8MB download from Apple’s Web site. The new version “updates compliance for the 1.0 HD DVD Video standard content specification to Tiger and Panther based users,” according to Apple. Users who are working with DVD Studio Pro 4.0 must install this update to ensure that their projects are compliant with the 1.0 HD DVD Video standard content definition.

CDA has installed at its headquarter company in Germany new duplicating and printing equipment that enables the company to offer a new service – the production of small lot sizes (up to 250 pcs.) in a more cost-efficient way. This new equipment is currently being used by a number of CDA client companies working in both CD and DVD formats.

POSTECH, a second-tier producer of optical discs, has decided to stop production of DVD+R/-R discs in the first half of this year and shift to other products, according to industry sources. Postech declined to comment on the report. The company made the decision because its 8x DVD+R/-R discs are not competitive and the company has had difficulties upgrading to production of 16x DVD+R/-R or 8x DVD+R/-R DL (single-sided double-layer) discs, the sources pointed out. Postech currently has eight production lines with a total monthly capacity of 4-5 million 8x DVD+R/-R discs and is negotiating sale of the equipment with another local maker of optical discs, the sources indicated.

TAIWANESE DVD maker Ritek released a warning advising consumers that faked DVD-R media have appeared in Japan under the Ritek label. Ritek's announcement reads: "Recently there are piracy products in Japan market and below picture is to help you verify the product you bought. Please contact authorized distributor for the Ritek trade mark and standard packaging and make sure product is distributed by RITEK Japan Branch-Ritek Japan Incorporation."

DURING The Sundance Film Festival, film industry executives and dozens of celebrities received a glimpse at the future of storage and playback technology for high-definition video content through demonstrations of Blu-ray Disc media in Philips' Simplicity Lounge. Its third year at the festival, Philips created the Simplicity Lounge in order to showcase current and future technology to industry VIPs and media, with an emphasis on products that enhance the viewing experience of TV and movie content for consumers.

AT a conference hosted in Johannesburg last year, the worldwide head of enforcement at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Iain Grant, said 40% of all DVDs and music CDs sold in SA were fake and that in other parts of Africa the rate was close to 100%. Johncom Group Marketing Director Neil Jacobsohn said investigations by the industry had shown that DVD piracy alone in SA cost the international film industry $30-million last year. And pirated computer and console games cost the copyright owners $22-million.

US company Pacific Disc introduced a new Screener Service for independent filmmakers who are interested in a less expensive and more effective way to provide samples of their films for consideration for distribution, film festival submissions, or other promotional use. Distributors of independent film use the Screener service to send film samples to a buyer to solicit worldwide film licensing and sales.