This has been an interesting news week with the changing of the guard at major CE companies in Japan. One of the most noteworthy was Sony, in which Howard Stringer took the reins of Sony Corp. of Japan from Sony chairman/CEO Nobuyuki Idei at the June 22nd shareholder meeting. As well, Ryoji Chubachi will become Sony's new president covering Consumer Electronics, taking over from Kunitake Ando. There will also be changes taking place at Toshiba at its upcoming shareholder meeting, which is scheduled for June 24th. Toshiba chairman Taizo Nishimuro will be replaced by current president Tadashi Okamura, with corporate executive VP Atsutoshi Nishida being promoted to Toshiba's president.
Concurrent to both the Sony and Toshiba changes, Matsushita, who is a major supporter of Blu-ray, is also holding their shareholder meeting on June 29th with changes a foot there as well. Exiting top officials from all three companies in the past were mired down in the technology of their respective formats. Each, however, believing that their respective format was technologically superior over the other. Although, like all issues in Consumer Electronics, things could change quickly. Or not!
What does this mean for next-generation high-definition DVD? The three camps may well now find ways to forge an agreement after the top management of Sony and Toshiba steps down after their respective meetings. One of the first orders that Stringer gave was to find ways for a unified blue laser format. And, going further, Chubachi of Sony recently said, "For the benefit of consumers, one unified format is desirable. For the unification, we would not spare any effort, though we support the Blu-ray Disc format. At present, there's no fixed schedule for negotiation. We'll continue the effort."
However, recent word from Japan late this week is that all three companies are reportedly planning to send senior officials for renewed talks, "for a top-down approach," according to Stringer before addressing technology issues. Each company is also receiving extreme pressure from major retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City for one unified format. No one wants to carry duplicate stock of the same movie as there simply isn't enough shelf space. Some retailers have even gone so far as to say that they won't carry either format until a single unified format is in place " either Blu-ray or HD DVD. So, while talks were stalled for quite a while, it now appears that starting in early July there will be renewed efforts by Sony, Toshiba, and Matsushita to get a unified blue laser format in place possibly with the best features of each proposed format.