Even if there were signs of renewed hope as the day went on, with potentially renewed negotiations mooted for as early as next week, the world needs to prepare for another format war about to break out, over the near-future optical storage formats - yet again.

Just as commonsense and market reality has arrived in the recordable DVD Market, with players and recordable decks supporting both formats but largely favouring -R/W as supported by the DVD Forum (in spite of +R/W's price dumping) - with Panasonic keeping its own DVD-RAM alive for re-recording, now Sony and Toshiba/Hitachi failed to agree any future compromise between Blu Ray and HD DVD after two months of heavy negotiations, this morning.

Unfortunately the altruism of Philips' lack of patent for the compact cassette 40 years ago, and the commonsense of Sony and Philips combining work on music CD and its future relatives just 20 years ago, resulting in enduring formats with sales in the billions, has been jettisoned in the 21st century. Instead, the manufacturers want to chase and own the royalties from the licensing involved for the winning format. As the video format war from 30 years ago has proved, it's not having the best format which will guarantee you the prize.

So in other words, we're looking at another six years of the formats going through the PC Upgrade market and eventually the blanks losing their margin and getting dumped at £/$1 before there's any meaningful chance of either of these formats losing the price premium- though next-generation console players are expected to have their first taste of Blu-Ray in Sony's Playstation3. If an agreement is reached following the next round of negotiations, maybe this can be cut down to three years. The two future formats are touted as markedly different, Blu Ray having the larger capacity of a theoretical 100Gb maximum compared to 45Gb (at the moment) for HD DVD.

Maybe staff reshuffles at both companies may result in a change of mind for both companies - or entrench the impasse with even more intensity. We'll bring you more as this story develops, although don't hold your breath.

Sections TV