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Microsoft and Intel back HD-DVD

As if Sony’s woes weren’t great enough with the widespread disappointment over its restructuring plan, just a week later its fledgling Blu-Ray next-generation DVD technology took a blow too. Microsoft and Intel announced they would support rival standard HD-DVD, which is led by Toshiba.

Jordi Ribas, Microsoft’s director of technology strategy for Windows Digital Media, told Tom’s Hardware that it was effectively a last-minute decision and one based on six criteria - the most important being whether consumers could make authorised copies of legally-obtained disks.

Sony played down concerns raised by the decision, and analysts weren’t convinced that it would spell the end of Blu-Ray, as divisions remain in many areas, such as Hollywood. The duelling formats has also affected the PC industry, as CNet reported. While the battle over standards is often likened to the “VHS vs Beta” battle of the 1980s, it could be more akin to the DVD-R vs DVD+R split - particularly as Samsung plans to release a player that supports both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, according to Engadget.

Meanwhile, fellow Japanese group Sanyo Electric announced its own restructuring which made Sony’s effort look tame. Sanyo, which has a significant debt burden, will cut 15 per cent of its jobs in a matter of months, whereas Sony is cutting 7 per cent over three years.

Scratching on your iPod

Although it was released just a few weeks ago to the usual acclaim that greets a new iPod, Apple’s latest music player has had a few teething problems. Some owners of the new iPod Nanos found that the screen was prone to cracking and the cover and the screen were easily scratched. One disgruntled Nano owner setup a website documenting the problem after Apple said the cracked screen was not covered by the warranty - but has removed photographs and information since Apple agreed to replace Nanos with cracked screens.

I started the site to get Apple’s attention, he said. “Mission accomplished. Now that they have investigated what my site was alleging, and made their own statement and rectified the situation to my (and everyone who has a broken Nano screen) satisfaction, I have chosen to take down my site.”

Apple, however, didn’t admit defeat on the surface scratching issue and suggested buyers might want to choose from one of the many iPod cases on the market. However the world’s iPod-owning bloggers circulated a solution involving Brasso, carefully documented here. The Unofficial Apple Weblog added: “you could always just flip the hold switch on the nano and rub your nano obsessively with your thumb as you listen. The natural oils of your hand combined with the friction from your skin will eventually rub out some of the minor scratches”. Thanks.

Meanwhile, the phony war between Apple and the record labels over song pricing escalated, when a Warner Music executive was quoted by PRPro as threatening to “cut him [Steve Jobs] off”.

Lenovo-IBM integration steams ahead

Lenovo, the Chinese company that bought IBM’s PC division in April, announced a management reorganisation that would herald the start of full integration with its acquisition. Until now, IBM PC had been managed separately to the rest of Lenovo. The company will be run by a combination of Chinese and ex-IBM American management, which analysts said could create a challenge.

Mary Ma, Lenovo’s chief financial officer, told the FT about the Chinese PC maker’s plans to target small business users after its acquisition of IBM’s PC and laptop business in April.

Lenovo, which recently indicated it would move into the previously unchartered territory of Thinkpads in colours other than black, has moved faster than onlookers expected to change the IBM branding.

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