A research firm, Screen Digest, has predicted that the forthcoming next generation DVD format war will result in confusion for consumers, ultimately leading to them becoming confused and turned off from the whole high-definition DVD technology arena. This may lead to the failure of both formats in the end.

The London-based market research analyst has also predicted that of the $39 billion expected to be spent on video discs by 2010 in the United States, Europe and Japan, only $11 billion will actually be spent. Consumer appetite for the whole high definition disc format will be dampened by the format war, and the two formats will likely co-exist side by side until a combined solution becomes viable and effective.

All of the Hollywood studios, except Universal, have said they will release movies on Blu-ray, with the first players and titles having launched earlier this year.

While only three of the major studios have said they will release movies in HD-DVD, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) has thrown its weight behind the format, supporting it in the Windows Vista PC operating system and offering an external drive to connect to its Xbox 360 game console.

What will the result ultimately be? Will both formats die out, giving way to a new, hybrid format? Or will one format win? As they said in Highlander (1986), in the end, there can be only one.