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China Wants Its Own Next-Gen DVD Format

In an attempt to break the monopolies held by foriegn companies, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said today the country plans to develop its own next-generation DVD format. The Chinese format would apparrently be based upon (but be incompatible with) Toshiba’s HD DVD format, which is currently locked in a life-and-death battle with Sony’s competing Blu-Ray format for future dominance of the consumer DVD market.

Xinhau News Agency quotes Lu Da, Deputy Director of China’s National Disc Engineering Center, a government-affiliated engineering concern, as saying the format would offer improve upon HD DVD by offering stronger anti-piracy measures, better audio quality, and higher image definition. Lu Da did not give a name for the new proposed format, which, if pursued, probably wouldn’t reach markets before 2008, well after the Blu-Ray/HD DVD struggle between Sony and Toshiba is likely to have been decided.

China has previously attempted to introduce its own DVD formats. In 1999, China began developing EVD (enhanced versatile disk) for the similar-sounding purpose of breaking loose from dependence on foriegn technology standards. Although the Chinese government gave EVD considerable support, its introduction in November 2003 failed to ignite much industry or consumer interest, and legal battles between manufacturers and the format developer seem to have scuttled the technology.

Industry estimates indicate as as many as 80 percent of DVD players are manufactured in China, but figures from the Chinese government indicate as much as 40 percent of the cost of making each unit goes out of the country to foriegn license-holders.

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