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HD DVD format is not dead, Toshiba says.

January 8th, 2008 by Maxim · 2 Comments · 5,629 Views

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Toshiba marketing executive Jodi Sally told the audience at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) HD DVD remained the best technology, but acknowledged the Warner Bros announcement on Friday took her by surprise.

“It’s difficult for me to believe when all the pundits declare that HD DVD is dead,” Sally said. “Clearly, the events of the last few days have led many of you to that conclusion. We have been declared dead before. The reality is we ended 2007 with a majority of the year-to-date market share.”

BluRay movies outsold HD DVD movies almost 2:1 this holiday season, while the best BluRay player, Sony’s PS3 console, sold 2.1 million units.

These numbers should be put in perspective, however. PS3 had been very popular, but Sony’s older PlayStation2 had sold 10 times as many units – just goes to show the adoption rate. Also, while HD-DVD player sales at regular retailers had not been great compared to PS3, Amazon and had sold record quantities of Toshiba A2 and XA2 players in 2007.

Studio support remains critical for the survival of a format, be it HD-DVD or BluRay. Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures today denied a newspaper report that the studio is poised to follow Time Warner Inc. in abandoning Toshiba Corp.’s HD DVD technology.

“Paramount’s current plan is to continue to support the HD DVD format,” Brenda Ciccone, a spokeswoman for Paramount, said in an e-mail today. Financial Times is reporting that Paramount has a clause in its HD DVD exclusivity contract allowing them to bail from the sinking HD DVD ship if Warner defected to Blu-ray, and they are “poised” to do so.

The HD-DVD press conference at CES was cancelled, and the Blu-ray conference on Monday evening had one solid message: “We won.”

For those who missed the news, Warner Brothers announced that it was breaking rank and defecting from HD-DVD to produce Blu-ray only, despite the large possibility of a lawsuit for breach of contract by the HD-DVD group and the format’s main hardware producer, Toshiba.

We’d love to hear your opinion on these news. Leave a comment at our blog, or post in our forums.

** Update (Feb 16, 2008) **

Following defection from HD-DVD by several studios, Netflix, BestBuy joned by WalMart on Friday, it has become known that Toshiba will abandon HD-DVD format.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 admin // Feb 12, 2008 at 1:38 am

    I’ve just received an email from Netflix saying they are going Blu-Ray exclusively. Needless to say, I am rather disappointed. But hopefully, in a year or so we’ll have descent movie download providers and high definition DVD will be history.

  • 2 Bruce Baxter // Jan 12, 2008 at 4:35 pm

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    I don’t know if Toshiba is thinking this – but i don’t see the “war” over either. My reasoning is because Toshiba has at least one major card left to play – price. If Toshiba uses an aggressive price strategy, and takes the minimum profit in order to bolster market saturation, they can starve Blu-Ray out of the market. Remember that VHS was cheaper than Betamax, and who won? We are on the heels, if not fully in, a recession. People have already shown that they are scaling back on lavish purchases, from homes to hamburgers – people are going frugal. Who had the largest profit this Christmas? Walmart – the DISCOUNTER. Blu-Ray is the “big spenders” device, and will not come down to the vast majority (middle income household) of people’s “affordability” for a long, long time. If Toshiba decides to stick it out, Blu-Ray has a slim chance of being able to hold on. It will become just too expensive.

    Toshiba has to deliver a specific technology, at a reachable price – or at least get down to that price quickly. They need to produce an HD-DVD writer, for desktops, and secondly for TV recording. Blu-Ray cannot deliver these products at nearly the low price that HD-DVD can. They can also take a cut or bare minimum profit on the price of recordable media, until the “war” is over. Blu-Ray may be “out” but it isn’t ready for price or technology war – it simply will not be able to keep up (or should I say “down”). They must step up the ad campaign, advertising to all about the efficiency, and more importantly – the availability – of the HD-DVD format. It may seem crazy at first – with all of those movie studios jumping ship – but when they realize that HD-DVD is overtaking Blu-Ray, and Blu-Ray is in no position to fire back – they will be right back in the HD-DVD camp.

    It all depends on Toshiba – do they have the fortitude and the patience to achieve this victory? Are will they lay down their hands and fold like a deck of cards? We shall see…

  • 3 admin // Feb 11, 2008 at 5:38 pm

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    I’ve just received an email from Netflix saying they are going Blu-Ray exclusively. Needless to say, I am rather disappointed. But hopefully, in a year or so we’ll have descent movie download providers and high definition DVD will be history.

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