Prediction: DVD Format Wars to End in Merger

The current battle between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray formats for tomorrow's next-gen DVD consumers will probably end in a draw, according to analyst Screen Digest, with both very different, incompatible DVD technologies eventually somehow merging into one less-costly option for consumers.

Screen Digest recently released a 126-page report on the issue (available for purchase), which predicts the ongoing war between both regimes-- backed chiefly by Sony (Blu-ray) and Toshiba (HD DVD) -- may serve no other purpose than to annoy today's DVD disc and player buyers and perhaps turn them off the emerging technology altogether, according to Reuters. (The current "standard" DVD format remains among the most swiftly adopted new formats globally in CE history.)

By 2010, Screen Digest predicts less than a third of the nearly $40 billion in all digital disc purchases in the United States, Europe and Japan will be generated by sales of Blu-ray and HD DVD combined. Costs are also cited as another reason by Screen Digest that standard discs will continue to sell well for now, since they carry noticeably lower price points than next-gen discs. (New HD DVD and Blu-ray titles suggest retail prices that will hover around $35-$40 per disc for now; supermarkets, meanwhile, are selling standard-format discs for as little as $10.)

Screen Digest points out that retailers have expressed annoyance and growing concern over the ongoing format war because, among other factors, it does not permit them to heavily promote one format over the other, for fear of ultimately choosing the wrong one. The analyst predicts neither format will emerge as a traditional winner, but rather will merge into one format (although it did not say how such widely different technologies might be able to technically merge).