Sony’s march towards the break-even point on manufacturing costs for the PS3 just faltered and took a small step backwards. Four of the many companies that hold key patents covering the technology behind Blu-ray have formed a licensing group and started charging royalties for their intellectual property (IP).
The four companies, Mitsubishi, Thomson, Toshiba and Warner Bros., have formed the BD4C Licensing Group which will be operated by Toshiba and will be responsible for collecting and sharing out the royalties. The group owns IP covering many aspects of Blu-ray technology from the discs themselves though to encode and decode components used in players and recorders.
Some examples of the cost impacts are that BD-Video and BD-ROM discs, the two you are most likely to be spinning in your PS3s for movies and games respectively, will both cost an extra $0.04 to make. While BD players, like the PS3 itself, will incur an additional cost of $4.50 owing to these new royalty payments.
As you might expect, now that Blu-ray has become more established business is doing what business does and looking to make more money from it. There also seems to be an open invitation for more companies with Blu-ray IP to join the existing four as the group has said it “reserves the right to adjust the rates as necessary to encourage the broad participation in the programme by interested companies with essential patents”. So this is unlikely to be the last increment to Blu-ray manufacturing costs.