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News in Brief - november 2007


HITACHI used the recent CEATEC JAPAN 2007 event to announce that they had successfully created a quad layer Blu-ray disc that can store up to 100 GB of data. According to Hitachi, the discs are compatible with existing Blu-ray players and drives after an easy firmware update. Hitachi says its currently working on "improving the signal quality of its quad-layer technology" so that it can be ready to for the market shortly. The company also claimed that it is working on a eight-layer Blu-ray disc capable of storing 200GB of data.

ACCORDING to the web metrics site Compete.com, it seems that although the number of high-def early adopters using Netflix is still small, the users prefer HD DVD over Blu-ray. 48,000 visitors to Netflix viewed the HD sections of the site from June-August 2007 which was about 0.3 percent of total traffic. About 65 percent of the traffic checked out Blu-ray titles but when asked to set a preferred format, HD DVD was chosen by about 70 percent making it by far the more favorable format.

BY 2011 435 million homes will take VOD or NVOD services – that is the latest prediction by Informa Telecoms & Media. The $11.4 billion this will generate in revenue is an increase from just $3.1 billion in 2005 – and the market will be far from mature. Potential for rapid growth will still exist and the companies honing their strategies now will be best placed to profit from this revolution in television entertainment.

LONDON-based media research and consultancy firm Screen Digest will acquire Adams Media Research, the pre-eminent supplier of data and market analysis on the U.S. home entertainment market, for an undisclosed amount of cash and Screen Digest stock. The merger is expected to be finalized by the end of October. The merger sees the formalization of a successful working relationship that has existed for a number of years.

THE US International Trade Commission (ITC) is beginning an investigation into an alleged patent infringement of certain hard disk drives made by Seagate, Toshiba, HP, Dell and Western Digital. The products investigated are hard disk drives made using "dissipative ceramic bonding tips". The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Steven F. Reiber and Mary L. Reiber of Lincoln, California, last month which alleges US import violations of the Tariff Act of 1930 infringing the patents owned by the complainants. The complainants have requested that the ITC issue a permanent exclusion order and a permanent cease and desist order.

VERDICT Research, part of the Datamonitor Group, says that UK music and video retailing is poised for a revival as consumers start adopting high-definition disc players. The market for packaged video-based music is set to shrink again for the third year running (by 2.9% to some $4bn), but “the prospects are brighter now that many weaker players have exited the market,” says analyst Nick Gladden. In the short term Verdict says it believes next generation DVD will help stabilise the music & video market. Though HD-DVD and Blu-ray are unlikely to cause a massive surge in sales to the extent DVD did when it first hit the mass market, they should provide a much-needed stimulus.

EBAY.COM has become a key player in the selling of new and used DVDs, with sales topping $77 million in 2006 alone with more than 6.7 million disc shipped, according to consumer research firm Packaged Facts.

IN FRANCE, authors, performers and producers of works distributed on CDs and DVDs are entitled to remuneration for private copying, in application of Article L. 311-1 of the Intellectual Property Code. In a Decision in July 2007, the IPC extended the list of recording media already subject to remuneration (amongst which Minidisc, audio CDR and CDR-RW, video DVD-R and DVD-RW) to include memory cards, USB keys and external hard disks. The Commission also reduced the remuneration applicable to blank DVDs (DVD Ram, DVD-R and DVD RW) from €23.40 to €21.70 for 100 GB.

KEY Blu-ray backer Australia’s chain JB HiFi is to drop its exclusive support for Blu-ray and start selling the competing HD DVD hardware. The change of mind by JB Hi Fi has not only stunned Sony but the whole CE industry after Scott Browning, the company MD, decided earlier this year to only go with Blu ray. At the time he was quoted as saying "Consumers don't give a rat's arse about products. They are more about buying an experience and Blu-ray delivers that," he said. Sony at the time fell at Browning feet for the gushing support with just about everyone in Sony using JB Hi Fi's decision as a key marketing tool in their battle against the HD DVD format.

SONY is preparing to launch a 4X internal SATA Blu-ray burner. Burn speeds for other formats include 40X CD-R write, 32X CD-RW, 16X DVD-R, and 6x DVD-RW. Sony claims the drive is capable of burning up to four hours of video (or 50GB of data) per disc, and currently has the drive available for pre-order for $599.99. Blu-Ray writeable / re-writeable discs retail for around $11-$17. Drives are expected to actually ship on or around October 19.

TOSHIBA claims it is back in the lead, following the September launch of its 3rd-gen players. Citing new year-to-date NPD figures, the manufacturer said HD DVD players now account for 53% of sales; Blu-ray players, 44%; dual format players, 3%. Toshiba has acknowledged some weeks of Blu-ray dominance in set-top players, and NPD figures released by the manufacturer in early September did indicate a decline in HD DVD dominance. The NPD figures reflect stand-alone player sales only, and do not include sales of the Blu-ray-enabled PS3, the HD DVD add-on for the XBox 360, or computer disc drives for either format.

DURING the recent Oerlikon BD summit held at the Oerlikon Balzers Data Storage headquarters in Liechtenstein, the company unveiled its Indigo 50GB Dual Layer Blu-ray line to an audience of customers, industry partners, other Oerlikon divisions and the press. Demonstrations were made by Infodisc in Germany, an independent BD replicator, which is already producing BD25 discs and will soon be producing BD50 discs.

BESTDISC, a leading independent DVD manufacturer in Asia, recently opened a new facility in Taiwan focusing on BD-ROM, both single and dual layer, and equipped with quality control systems from DaTARIUS. Mastering , galvanic and replication lines were installed and optimized earlier this year and, to help control and fine-tune their manufacturing process, BestDisc relies on its DaTABANK equipped with a BD driveCube, along with the CoverTest stamper testing technology.

AUDIODEV USA and PUSHHD have announced a partnership which will add an additional level of quality assurance to PUSHHD’s high standards of high-definition live concert productions. Having produced high definition video programming for Huey Lewis, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, Sheryl Crow and many others, PUSHHD saw a potential for error before the manufacturing stage. PUSHHD has decided to have all of its future check discs tested by AudioDev’s TestCenter in Agoura Hills, California, to ensure the discs’ playability and compatibility, as well as to ensure the discs’ specifications are within the guidelines of industry standards.

IN A BID to tap the booming Middle East optical storage market, Verbatim, the storage media specialist, announced its complete range of optical media from CD-R & DVD to the latest high definition technology in Blu-Ray & HD DVD, to meet the increasing consumer demand for high definition CDs and DVDs.

NINTENDO, a leading maker of game consoles and software, recently said that it would not release a version of Nintendo Wii game console capable of DVD playback this year. The company did not provide information about the timeframe when such a console is set to become available, but said that Nintendo’s primary goal is to fulfill the outstanding demand towards its Wii across the globe.

CHINA's high piracy rate has grown to such an extent that Warner Home Video now intends fighting it by lowering its prices to compete with pirated versions. It has made a deal with Paramount and DreamWorks Animation to sell DVDs at just 22 Yuan ($2.90). The first two movies to be released under the new pricing include Transformer's and Shrek the Third. At this price, they hope that Chinese consumers will think twice of choosing lower-quality pirated products.

MACROVISION has patched a security hole in a driver file used for their SafeDisc copy protection system. The flaw could allow an attacker to completely take over an affected Windows XP or Server 2003 computer. A Microsoft security advisory indicates that Vista is immune to the problem. Despite the level of access this could give an attacker, it requires the attacker to be at (or at least logged into) the computer. Microsoft says customers have reported "limited attacks."

ASKED about the battle between Sony's Blu-ray DVD format and the competing HD DVD, Sony Corp chairman and CEO Howard Stringer is reported by The Hollywood Reporter to say said if Sony lost out, it would have to change the harddrive for its PlayStation, but it wouldn't hurt the conglomerate too much beyond that. He also signaled he would have preferred to integrate the two formats. "There was a chance to integrate (before I was in charge)," Stringer said. "I wish I could go back in time, because I heard it was all about saving face."