Paul Ramsey sums up the situation very well:
Rather than avoiding a lengthy LIDAR format war, we are now entering one. In some respects, this will be healthy: the open LAS community now has to come up to feature parity faster than it might otherwise. But in most ways, it’s unhealthy: users will have data interchange issues, they’ll have to understand and install format translation software, and add extra steps to their processing chains.
Yuck right? LAS is still niche so it isn’t like FGDB where you have to convert it to old shapefiles to make it useful but working outside the community is not good for users. I’m glad I don’t work for a data marketplace anymore, these file formats are springing up like weeds[footnote]Hard to keep track of them all[/footnote].
As a user, I don’t leave LIDAR data in LAS but convert it into other formats to use it. But it’s that interchange issue that keeps us stuck with old formats such as the shapefile. Sharing LAS is difficult to to huge file sizes. Binary point clouds with some sort of compression makes complete sense. Now you’ve got multiple file types to deal with. Enjoy…