Sony has said that it would far rather that there was a single, unified standard for next generation DVD, and that nothing will be gained from a format war. The company said today that it wants to open discussions with all major players in this area about the prospect of a single standard. But it also added that specific proposals have yet to be put on the table.

"From the point of view to provide the best service to the consumer one format is better than two. We're open to discussions." - Yukinori Kawauchi, general manager in charge of the next DVD format at Sony's Video Group.

This currently seems to be little more than a good will gesture, since Kawauchi has noted that there is not currently any visible move towards an open standard. Nor might there ever be.

The issue at the heart of all this is that there are two competing standards for next generation DVD - Blu-ray optical discs and HD DVD. Needless to say (as far as I recall) these two formats are completely incompatible with each other (much like betamax and VHS in the 80s.) By the end of this year we should be seeing products with both technologies employed in them, and many fear a very bloody battle is on its way. Japan's TDK, Sony and Philips Electronics are part of a large group promoting Blu-ray against a group led by Toshiba and its HD DVD technology, so there are powerful industry voices on both sides.