Ken Kutaragi, the man behind the PlayStation at Sony, has all but ruled out the possibility of Sony and Toshiba getting together to create a unified next generation DVD format.

The two companies had been hoping to create a format that took the best of both standards and produce a single standard to present to the consumer.

However, the talks have faltered and Mr Kutaragi, widely seen as Sony's top technology brain, yesterday described the chances of unifying the rival formats as “almost zero”, adding that efforts to find common ground between the consortiums had proved “very difficult”.

While Toshiba's HD DVD is favoured by the movie studios, because it can be manufactured on the existing technology used to make current DVD's more and more companies are signing up to Sony's Blu-ray technology including HP, Apple and Dell.

The situation will disappoint major film studios, who would have been the chief beneficiaries of a unified format. Studios will now likely be forced either choose one format and take the gamble or produce films on both. Either way it is likely to be the consumer who suffers just as they did with the VHS and Beatmax format war in the early eighties.

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