Europe's online source of news, data & analysis for professionals involved in packaged media and new delivery technologies

News in Brief - october 2007


MOSER Baer, India’s largest manufacturer of CD and DVD recordables, is now launching a DVD burner under its own brand name. It seems the unit is a rebadged Lite-On drive as the article mentions that Moser Baer is doing this in partnership with Philips and Lite-On Digital Solutions. The newly launched E-IDE 20x DVD writer can burn DVDs at speed of up to 20x.

MAXELL is to begin shipping 8cm Blu-ray BD-R write-once and BD-RE rewritable discs for the high-definition camcorder market. The discs are compatible with the latest Blu-ray camcorders, providing a recording capacity of 7.5GB and allowing the disc to store one hour of full high-definition picture quality at 1920 x 1080 pixels. The Maxell 8cm Blu-ray discs will be available in the US in September to coincide with the release of Hitachi's Blu-ray camcorders. Discs will retail for $24.99 for the write-once single sided disc and $34.99 for the rewritable version.

MITSUBISHI Kagaku Media (under Verbatim) has announced that it will completely change thepackaging on its DVD for video products from the beginning of October, with the aim of making it easier for customers to choose the right product for their individual needs. It will colour-code the packaging according to the type of DVD, and will display the disc specifications, such as the recording speed, on a black strip on the right-hand side of the packaging.

FOLLOWING the recent resignation of Cinram's Brian Wilson from the post of chairman of the board of CDSA (Content Delivery and Storage Association), formerly IRMA, a conference call was held to appoint a new interim chairman. Frank Russomanno, president and CEO of Imation and chairman-elect of CDSA, has been appointed chairman until the board meeting in December, when a new chairman and chairman-elect will be appointed. By all accounts, Russomanno is likely to be reappointed chairman.

NEW LINE, the last remaining major studio yet to release a title on either HD DVD or Blu-ray, is reportedly planning to release Hairspray on Blu-ray this November, with an HD DVD release to follow in early 2008.

HEWLETT-PACKARD will begin launching its next-generation PCs with a Blu-ray/HD DVD dual-format burner in the US and Europe starting October 2007 and in other markets later on, the company said at a product presentation held in Singapore on September 11. Spotlighting the "HP Tough Innovation" as the main theme for its product presentation, HP claimed that it has extended the latest touch sensing technology to products from PDA phones to PCs and MFPs (multi-function peripherals).

WARNER Home Video president Ron Sanders has dismissed reports of a move to release titles on HD DVD only and says the studio will continue to release films on Blu-ray and HD DVD high-def discs. Media reports claimed that Warner has received a "lucrative" offer from HD DVD supporters to back HD DVD exclusively in the format war, similar to Paramount. Sanders has maintained that Warner will remain committed to both formats for the time being, but has not denied receiving offers from any of the high-def format backers to support their format exclusively.

TRAXDATA has released a double-sided DVD-R 8x media enabling uses to store 9.4GB on the one disc. Double-sided discs are compatible with nearly all DVD drives and recorders as well as a majority of DVD-ROM, DVD video players, and game consoles. The disc can be burnt in the same way as a normal DVD, except to burn the other side users should simply flip the disc over as prompted.

SHARP is to acquire a 14 percent stake in Pioneer for ¥41.4 billion ($358 million) to develop DVD players and car navigation equipment. Pioneer, Japan’s largest car navigation systems maker, will sell 30 million new shares to Osaka-based Sharp - making it its biggest shareholder. Sharp will sell 10 million shares, or a 0.9 percent holding, to Tokyo-based Pioneer to cement the alliance. Investing in Pioneer will help Sharp cut costs in high-definition DVD players and enter the car navigation market.

ACER, the world's fourth largest PC maker, which already makes computers with HD DVD drives, has announced it is formally joining the North American HD DVD Promotional Group. The announcement comes just days after the company made the same statement for the Blu-ray Disc Association.

GERMANY's parliament has approved a controversial copyright law which will make it illegal to make copies of CDs and DVDs, even for personal use. The Bundesrat, the upper part of the German parliament, approved the legislation over the objections of consumer protection groups. The law is set to take effect in 2008, and covers CDs, DVDs, recordings from IPTV, and TV recordings.

THE Motion Picture sales fell 4.1% to Y148,358 million ($1.3 billion) in the first half of 2007, according to the Association of America has filed a lawsuit, filed on behalf of the major studios, against two websites which it believes are allowing internet users to view pirated films, many of which are still in theatres. The lawsuit seeks to stop Malaysia-based cinematube.net and Arizona-based ssupload.com from further infringing on the copyrights of the MPAA members. The MPAA estimates that the industry lost $18.2 billion in 2005.

VIDEO and DVD sales fell 4.1% to Y148,358 million ($1.3 billion) in the first half of 2007, according to the Japan Video Software Assn., the fourth straight first-half fall. DVDs dominate the market with a 99.7% share, and of the almost $1.3 billion in DVD sales, sell-through DVDs accounted for 65.5%, rental stores sales, 33.9% and commercial and other sales, 0.5%. In terms of units sold, foreign titles came first with a 26.9% share, followed by Japanese animations with 22%. Third in both sales and units was Japanese music. The average price of a DVD rose 9.3%, to $28.56.

PHILIPS Corporation USA has won patent infringement cases against KXD Technology and International Norcent Technology. In both cases, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, found willful infringement of Philips’ patents directed to DVD technology and Philips was awarded monetary damages – $91 million and $12.8 million, respectively. The judgment was entered against the group of defendants for the sale and importation of DVD players incorporating Philips’ patented technology.The Norcent decision is one of the first willful infringement verdicts to be handed down by a jury since the landmark Seagate case, in which the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals introduced new standards for determining willful infringement.

ALTHOUGH they were among the most eagerly anticipated of the season, it seems two of Samsung's previously-announced next-gen players will not hit store shelves later this month as originally planned. WesleyTech.com first broke the news late Friday that Samsung had cancelled its higher-end BDP-2400 Blu-ray Player. Later, it was revealed that the manufactuer would also delay the launch of its dual-format HD DVD/Blu-ray player, the BD-UP5000. Both players had originally been expected to hit store shelves before 1 November.

KMA Global Solutions International has announced that it will begin supplying its Dual Tag, with an initial order of one million, to Sony DADC for application on its games. Sony's DADC division has started to use the Dual Tag to protect its high-demand games. KMA's patent-pending Dual Tag provides theft protection through a combination of two leading electronic article surveillance (EAS) technologies in a single application, reducing production efficiencies by over 50%. The dual technology also eliminates inventory costs associated with duplicate inventories carrying different EAS labels.

SWEDEN's equipment maker M2 has sold an SQ20 finishing line, to be used for both DVD and HD DVD, to Memory-Tech of Japan. The machine passed its final on-site testing in mid-June and has been running at full production capacity ever since. Memory-Tech, one of the founders of the HD-DVD format, is a major Japanese optical disc replicator with production being carried out at multiple facilities. Its total production capacity is 60 million discs per month, of which about 11 million are HD-DVD. The SQ20 was chosen by Memory-Tech for its cost-effective production performance and the capability to switch effortlessly between the DVD and HD-DVD formats.

AMAZON.COM is now selling a Toshiba 1080p HD DVD player for $292 – more than $100 off the suggested list price. The player, model HD-A20, can playback HD DVD high-def discs in 1080p video and upconvert standard-definition DVDs so they will be near-HD quality.

SONY DADC has announced the production of its 10 millionth 50 Gigabyte Blu-ray Disc. Sony DADC manufactures BD50s in its three plants, located in Terre Haute, Indiana; Salzburg, Austria; and Shizuoka, Japan. The ten millionth BD50 was manufactured at Sony DADC's Terre Haute facility, and was Spider-Man 3 from Columbia Pictures. Since the launch of this High Definition format, Sony DADC has produced more than 50 million Blu-ray Discs in its three plants, In addition, these three plants have a combined Blu-ray manufacturing capacity of 21 million discs per month.

FIRST day sales of the Warner action epic 300 have “set new standards in the sales of high definition formats”, according to the company. Total HD sales on the day of release are the highest on record, beating cash sales generated by Sony’s Casino Royale, which was launched on Blu-ray alongside the PS3 earlier in this year. According to Warner sales figures, 6,564 copies on both HD DVD and Blu-ray were sold on day one. Blu-ray was the dominant format with 4,500 units sold. Warner is the only studio to back both formats.