Look at video in the mid to late 70's. When it was decided to market video for home viewing, two formats sprung up in the public market place. Both released very close to one another: VHS  & BETA .
We all know what happened and if you so desire you can read more about its history here .
In the music industry, particularly since the development of .mp3's there have been duels of "Digital Rights" that continue today, even into the superior courts.
The most recent "Format Duel" to my mind would reside with video again, that being between HD DVD and BLUERAY. I don't know if there's been a clear winner declared quite yet [but don't sell your stock in BLUERAY].
I believe that the next big "Format Duel" that we'll see explode all over the internet has all ready begun...with comics.
Now, we all know that there is an element of traditional "Comic Collecting/Reading" that can't be duplicated quite as well [at least not in the foreseable future] with fully digital comics read on a device.
Some of those more traditional "perks" if you will would be having a passionate live conversation with other passionate individuals in a comic book store. Getting the opinion of the Comic Shop owner or their employee of a book before you pick one up. You can ask them what they think and what other consumers have thought, commented on, and ultimately purchased. I've read, in the past comments of this very blog I believe, that the commenter wouldn't want to take a cold machine into the bathroom with them over a paper comic book.
We haven't even touched on the topic of collectability of fully digital comics sold/consumed on a hand held device [and were not going too].
The fact is, comic book fans are split, some won't quit buying paper comic books until the last one is printed, shipped, and placed on a comic shop shelf for the last time. Truthfully, I don't see that happening in our lifetimes. Since no one really comments on this blog anyway, I don't have to worry about catering to that group of comic book fans.
For the rest of us, we have a "Digital Comic Book Format Duel" in our near future.
It was announced recently on JOYSTIQ and then NEWSARAMA "That Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is testing the waters on a major new addition to their online store: a dedicated section for Comics." the article goes on to talk about "A panel by panel system, similar to how many comics have been presented on the iPhone already, which gives an easier way for readers to view the comic on such a small screen."
Check out this video presentation...
And for those of you who don't own a PSP, there are several different iPhone/iPod Touch apps to read/view comics on those devices. We've covered some here and here on this blog in the past. A new one to us is PULL LISTS.
There are other formats, and there will still be more formats to come. Is any one format thats been demonstrated to the public a perfect solution? Has MARVEL, DC, DARKHORSE, or IMAGE endorsed any one format? The answer to all of these are a resounding: NOT YET.
Is there one format that will work on all "smart" devices with a big enough screen?
FLEPia, world's first color e-book reader
After years of teasing -- FLEPia was first announced in April of 2007, and first proven in 2006 -- Fujitsu has at last released its color e-book (or e-paper mobile terminal, as they'd like you to call it) to the masses. Featuring an 8-inch XGA screen capable of displaying 260,000 colors, along with Bluetooth, WiFi and up to 4GB of storage via SD card, and measuring less than half an inch thick, FLEPia's not just getting by on color alone.
Fujitsu promises 40 hours of continuos use, and the unit can be operated by its touchscreen or the assortment of function buttons. Naturally you can do the regular e-book thing, but the Japanese version of the device also includes full-on Windows CE 5.0, which would probably be a bit of a chore to use with the relatively slow screen refresh times of e-ink (1.8 seconds for a single wipe), but undeniably retrofuturistic. FLEPia ships on April 20th in Japan for 99,750 Yen (about $1,010 US). ~Engadget
Meanwhile...back at Apple...
The iTablet rumors continue to gain momentum as more and more details of some form of touchscreen netbook or tablet device leak out of the many various vendors Apple is using for whatever their next, gotta have it device may be.
This of course is resulting in quite a number of beautifully rendered models of such a device. Like this...
The iTablet will likely follow the evolving design themes emerging from Cupertino, continuing the convergence toward aluminum and black that characterize recent Apple machines. The critical acclaim and hotcakes-like acceptance of the MacBook Air guarantees that slimness and lightness will be a priority, and by their omission, optical drives will be given another small push toward obsolescence. ~THE READER
Those are just a hand full of devices and formats that will be dueling for digital comics supremacy as paper comics die. I'm sure were in for lots more to come, particularly if the SXSW #ComicsonHandheld panel was any indication....