Are we really about to see the end of the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray, asks Andy Clough?

Following the decision by Warner Bros to drop HD DVD in favour of Blu-ray, there is growing speculation that Paramount may be the next major Hollywood studio to switch to Blu-ray.

Currently Paramount and Universal are the last two major studios still supporting HD DVD, but reports in today's UK media are fuelling speculation that Paramount may be considering switching its support from HD DVD to Blu-ray.

A Paramount spokeswoman told today's Guardian newspaper that the company's "current plan" still involved HD DVD, but as the HD DVD group cancelled its press conference at CES in Las Vegas earlier this week, it appears the HD DVD camp has been thrown into disarray by the Warner Bros decision.

One things for sure: whenever the consumer electronics industry develops two rival formats, confusion reigns and consumers (quite understandably) are afraid to buy.

More after the break

We nearly had two formats when DVD was born, with Sony/Philips backing the rival MMCD (Multimedia CD) format and others DVD.

Fortunately the bosses of the Hollywood studios banged heads together and common sense prevailed. DVD went on to become one of the most successful format launches of all time.

Anyone remember MiniDisc and Digital Compact Cassette? I do. Neither still exists. And let's be frank, neither DVD-Audio nor SACD have exactly set the music world alight.

I've no axe to grind here, and no particular desire to see HD DVD fail, but I do think having one high-definition video format rather than two will be better for everyone.

Consumers will be able to buy with confidence, the studios will only have to release films on one HD format (with all the cost savings that implies) and hardware manufacturers will have the confidence to bring a wider range of products to market.

Come on Paramount, make a decision and put us out of our misery. We're all waiting.

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