Victor of Japan (JVC) has joined the Blu-ray Disc Association, the group responsible for promoting the Blu-ray Disc optical disc format, which is being positioned as a successor to current DVD discs for high-definition video content.
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In this area it faces competition from a rival format called HD-DVD (High Definition/High Density-DVD).
While its membership is new, JVC's support for Blu-ray Disc has been known for a long time. It was among the first Japanese companies to show a prototype Blu-ray Disc player in 2002 and has continued to show prototypes based on the system at Japanese trade shows since then.
"We are really excited to have them join, they are clearly a major brand and one of the last major ones that have not committed," said Andy Parsons, senior vice-president of advanced product development at Pioneer Electronics (USA) and a representative of the Blu-ray Disc Association.
Its membership comes a week after another big-name company, Twentieth Century Fox Film, also joined the Blu-ray Disc Association.
The support of content providers, like Fox, is seen as vital to the success of both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD because, without commercial content, the formats are unlikely to appeal to a wide customer base.
"I think the content providers [like Fox] are an essential part of the overall equation," said Parsons. "It is also very important to have a number of companies to release products to play back that content."
To this end, the Blu-ray Disc Association is talking "on an almost daily basis" to content providers, said Parsons.
The recent inclusion of the MPEG4 and VC1 video codecs to the read-only BD-ROM specification was as a direct result of these conversations and the requests of content providers, he said.
Standardisation work on the BD-ROM format is underway. Version 1.0 of the physical format has been set and the association is aiming to complete the first version of the application format and navigation format by the end of 2004, said Parsons.
Fox also took a seat on the board of the Blu-ray Disc Association and will play a part in discussing and setting the Blu-ray Disc format.
There are 13 other companies on the board: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Mitsubishi Electric, Philips Electronics, Pioneer Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, Sony, TDK Corp. and Thomson Multimedia.
The competing HD-DVD is supported by the DVD Forum and backed by NEC, Toshiba, Sanyo Electric and optical disc maker Memory-Tech.
Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service