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Toshiba Concedes Defeat in HD Format War - HD DVD is Done

Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2008 10:50 AM by Scott Jentsch

The writing has been on the wall since January 4, 2008, and today, Toshiba has officially announced that it is discontinuing production of HD DVD players and recorders.

According to a press release issued by Toshiba at 3am ET today,

"We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called 'next-generation format war' and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop," said Atsutoshi Nishida, President and CEO of Toshiba Corporation. "While we are disappointed for the company and more importantly, for the consumer, the real mass market opportunity for high definition content remains untapped and Toshiba is both able and determined to use our talent, technology and intellectual property to make digital convergence a reality."

Shipments of HD DVD players and recorders will be reduced and they are targeting the end of March for all HD DVD-related sales to end. They will continue to support and service existing HD DVD products, however.

It's surprising how quickly all of this happened. Just over 6 weeks after Warner's announcement, the HD DVD world has caved in upon itself. Lest anyone sit on a high horse and crow about how superior their vision was for picking Blu-ray over HD DVD, this situation could very easily have happened in the other direction with Blu-ray and Sony wondering what happened to everything they worked so hard to achieve.

While no official announcements have been made yet by the HD DVD exclusive movie studios, it would make sense for Universal, Paramount, and Dreamworks to be announcing their plans for future high definition releases soon.

Now that this has finally been made official, I hope that everyone involved will begin to concentrate on making the HD media experience the best it can possibly be. My limited experience so far with Blu-ray discs has been pretty good, but not overwhelming by any means (there is little real-world difference between HD DVDs and Blu-ray discs). Studios need to start cranking out more high quality releases on a very regular basis to show the public why HD is the future, and what can be done with the Blu-ray format. If not, downloads have a very real chance at taking the market right out from underneath Blu-ray.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of all this is the sorry state of Blu-ray players. I've always held that the Blu-ray spec, on paper, was better than HD DVD. No argument there. With the addition of Bonus View (Profile 1.1) and BD-Live (Profile 2.0) functionality, there was no advantage that the HD DVD spec had over Blu-ray. However, the players have lagged behind and do not realize the full potential of the format, and continue to do so. The result is that the end experience for the consumer was, and still is, better on the HD DVD side of things.

If you are interested in buying into Blu-ray, please read my article "Looking for a Blu-ray Player? The Only Good Choice Right Now Is..." for my recommendation of the only Blu-ray capable player worth buying at this time.

RIP HD DVD. The home theater market is better for you giving it a good fight, as you set the bar for performance and price that Blu-ray has had to, and will still have to, meet if it is to become the next home video format of choice.

The full press release from Toshiba appears below.

Related Journal Articles

Press Release

Toshiba Announces Discontinuation of HD DVD Businesses

Company Remains Focused on Championing Consumer Access to High Definition Content

February 19, 2008 03:00 AM Eastern Time

TOKYO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders. This decision has been made following recent major changes in the market. Toshiba will continue, however, to provide full product support and after-sales service for all owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.

HD DVD was developed to offer consumers access at an affordable price to high-quality, high definition content and prepare them for the digital convergence of tomorrow where the fusion of consumer electronics and IT will continue to progress.

"We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called 'next-generation format war' and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop," said Atsutoshi Nishida, President and CEO of Toshiba Corporation. "While we are disappointed for the company and more importantly, for the consumer, the real mass market opportunity for high definition content remains untapped and Toshiba is both able and determined to use our talent, technology and intellectual property to make digital convergence a reality."

Toshiba will continue to lead innovation, in a wide range of technologies that will drive mass market access to high definition content. These include high capacity NAND flash memory, small form factor hard disk drives, next generation CPUs, visual processing, and wireless and encryption technologies. The company expects to make forthcoming announcements around strategic progress in these convergence technologies.

Toshiba will begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders to retail channels, aiming for cessation of these businesses by the end of March 2008. Toshiba also plans to end volume production of HD DVD disk drives for such applications as PCs and games in the same timeframe, yet will continue to make efforts to meet customer requirements. The company will continue to assess the position of notebook PCs with integrated HD DVD drives within the overall PC business relative to future market demand.

This decision will not impact on Toshiba’s commitment to standard DVD, and the company will continue to market conventional DVD players and recorders. Toshiba intends to continue to contribute to the development of the DVD industry, as a member of the DVD Forum, an international organization with some 200 member companies, committed to the discussion and defining of optimum optical disc formats for the consumer and the related industries.

Toshiba also intends to maintain collaborative relations with the companies who joined with Toshiba in working to build up the HD DVD market, including Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and DreamWorks Animation and major Japanese and European content providers on the entertainment side, as well as leaders in the IT industry, including Microsoft, Intel, and HP. Toshiba will study possible collaboration with these companies for future business opportunities, utilizing the many assets generated through the development of HD DVD.



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