High-def format war expected through 2009

Forrester now predicts no end to the format war in sight

Although it once claimed Blu-ray would be the winner of the high-def format war, Forrester Research is now saying that a long-term format war is most likely and it could be well into 2009 before a victor is crowned.

According to the research firm, Blu-ray could have dealt a decisive blow early on in the war, but because it failed to do so, the war will last much longer than originally expected. Even worse, the group cited the fact that HD media isn't selling as well as it should have by now and there is little chance that either format will make headway for years.

Blu-ray seemed like the clear-cut victor

Towards the beginning of this year, it seemed Blu-ray had the decisive upper hand when the company reached an agreement with Blockbuster - the top movie rental firm in the United States - to sell only Blu-ray discs.

But in just a few short months after that important announcement, Blu-ray was dealt a significant blow when Paramount Pictures announced that it would sell its movies exclusively on HD DVD (with the exception of Steven Spielberg films), citing pricing and logistical advantages that justified its move.

It was later divulged that Paramount may have received financial gifts from HD DVD to become an HD DVD backer.

As of right now, Paramount is the only exclusively HD DVD movie studio and Warner has officially announced its intention to support both formats. Simply put, none of the independent movie studios are ready to declare a victor and support just one format, and this is contributing to the current stalemate, according to Forrester.

To further complicate matters, a third format was recently announced called HD VMD, which should hit store shelves this holiday season. HD VMD is capable of displaying content in full HD and promises lower prices than its competitors. The group behind the new format has also announced that it will be releasing 30GB discs, which are printed with the help of red lasers.

To round out its findings, Forrester also divulged a few suggestions for the backers of Blu-ray. According to the research firm, Blu-ray prices should drop to better compete with HD DVD and the Blu-ray Disc Association should work hard to prevent any more movie studio exits.

It looks like we're in for a long and bitter war.