Digital-music format incompatibilities are destined to irk customers, a top analyst has warned.

Yankee Group senior analyst Mike Goodman says Apple's Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format may be dominant now, but warned that Microsoft's Windows Media Audio (WMA) format will take over as more players come to depend on it.

"Incompatibility issues are likely to cause increasing consumer dissatisfaction,'" Goodman told TechNewsWorld.

The view is echoed by GartnerG2 analyst Mike McGuire who suggests that differing formats are likely to cause many to look for new options for buying music online.

But McGuire notes that the online music market is not mature enough for the industry to push for interoperability. He said: "At some point, they'll get smart and see to it that there is some level of interoperability. But they are less likely to put their stamp on it right now."

And it seems the Recording Industry Association of America is unlikely to get involved soon, telling TechNewsWorld that the group leaves format decisions to individual recording companies.

This follows news that hardware makers and digital format developers are in private talks in an attempt to deliver harmony between competing devices by 2005.