Sony, Toshiba fire up talk of a compromise

Despite Kutaragi's comments last week that it was "game over," Sony shake-up prompts chipmakers to sit again at the negotiating table.

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The negotiations for a unified next-generation media standard between the Blu-ray and HD-DVD factions, led by Sony and Toshiba respectively, continue to bounce back and forth. Just last week, Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi said that talks between the two camps were done and that Sony would proceed with the Blu-ray format to prevent any delay to the PlayStation 3's release.

However, according to a report by Nikkei Net, the two companies plan to once again open tables for discussion following their shareholder meetings in late June. Both Sony and Toshiba's top management will be changing after the upcoming meetings, which may impact the two media-format camps. However, with time running out for both sides, a conference involving heads of both companies is deemed necessary to come to a quick conclusion.

Sony previously announced a major reshuffling in its board of directors, effective June 22, which included the appointments of Sony Corporation of America CEO Howard Stringer as group CEO and executive deputy president Ryoji Chubachi as group president. Toshiba also announced that its current vice president, Atsutoshi Nishida, would take the position of president and CEO after June 24.

Sony and Toshiba each announced its own unique next-generation disc format in 2002. In February, the two sides began negotiations for a unified disc standard, fearing a repeat of the VHS-versus-Betamax war of the early 1980s. The negotiations were broken on May 16 by Toshiba, which stated that its HD-DVD disc structure would be better suited than Sony's Blu-ray for use in a unified standard, since it would be more convenient to both consumers and Hollywood film studios in terms of cost.

Analysts feel that the chance of Toshiba and Sony coming to an agreement is virtually impossible, as each company sees its format as superior. Sony's main focus has been capacity, while Toshiba's has been cost of production.

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