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The peace talks failed. Toshiba made it clear last week that no unified format for a next-generation DVD is likely before its year-end launch of advanced DVD players, a development that’s expected to lead to a new video format war.

Toshiba and Sony, leading rival camps, have waged a three-year battle to have their incompatible standards adopted for new high-definition DVDs. Toshiba, along with NEC and Sanyo, are promoting HD-DVD; while Sony and Matsushita, the maker of Panasonic brand products, are developing the Blu-ray technology.

The two technology camps have held weeks of negotiations in an attempt to unify their formats, but negotiations fell through as neither side yielded, and time ran out to develop a format before the launch of new products from both groups, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reported.

Company executives said Toshiba would continue efforts to ultimately agree to a unified standard even after its planned launch of HD-DVD players at the end of this year.

Among Hollywood film studios, whose support is critical for the success of any DVD format, Warner Bros. Studios, New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures endorse HD-DVD. Blu-ray supporters include Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Co. and Twentieth Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.

The split, however, is expected to hurt everyone. Confused shoppers most likely will stick to their old DVDs until a single format is established, Josh Martin, an analyst with the technology research firm IDC, told the Associated Press. Video-rental stores, he predicted, won’t fill their shelves with both Blu-ray and HD-DVD disks.

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