Major UK retailer Woolworths (not to be confused with defunct US retailer F. W. Woolworth Company aka Woolworth’s) has decided to drop HD DVD from their stores after Blu-ray bested the format 10-to-1 during the holiday shopping season, according to The Retail Bulletin. Beginning in March, Woolworths will no longer carry HD DVD in their stores, though they will continue to offer the format online. At the same time they drop HD DVD, they will carry Blu-ray in all 820 of their stores. Woolworths is the biggest retailer of high-def discs in the UK, with sales typically rising by over 40% a month compared to a relatively flat DVD market. According to The Register, Toshiba is still solidly in denial mode:
Olivier Van Wynendaele, the European assistant general manager of Toshiba’s Consumer Products Division, said: “While weâ€™re disappointed by Woolworthsâ€™ decision, it is extremely early to spot which format will eventually win. Weâ€™re confident that HD DVDâ€™s affordability, fantastic choice of movies, great consumer experience and upcoming promotions will help it continue to strengthen its share of the market.â€
I think Toshiba’s strategy is to put out so much spin that they reverse the earth’s rotation, and thereby turn back time.
Meanwhile, back in reality, the 800-pound gorilla of the analyst world, Gartner, has called the war for Blu-ray in 2008. According to EngadgetHD they wrote:“Gartner believes that Toshiba’s price-cutting may prolong HD DVD’s life a little, but the limited line-up of film titles will inflict fatal damage on the format.” And furthermore called Toshiba’s recent player price cuts“useless resistance” – ouch. Their conclusion?“Gartner expects that, by the end of 2008, Blu-ray will be the winning format in the consumer market, and the war will be over.” Hardly a shocking conclusion in light of the continuing bad news for HD DVD, but I certainly hope HD DVD calls it quits sooner rather than later.
But apparently just not quite yet. In what, to me, seems like throwing good money after bad, Home Media Magazine reports that Toshiba will run a 30-second spot for HD DVD during Super Bowl XLII on February 3rd. The spot will highlight the HD-A3, HD-A30, and HD-A35 HD DVD players, which recently had their prices slashed. Fox TV reportedly charged $2.7 million for a 30-second Super Bowl spot, plus whatever it cost Toshiba to put together the ad. The Blu-ray Disc Association reportedly considered running a Super Bowl spot, but decided against doing so. But Andy Parsons, SVP of industrial solutions business group for Panasonic Electronics and BDA spokesperson, took the opportunity for a little dig at Toshiba:
I certainly admire [Toshiba's] chutzpah,” Parsons said. “They can certainly choose to do as they please with their marketing. Running a Super Bowl ad is not likely to convince consumers than HD DVD will win the format war.”
I’d have to agree. Toshiba may see a bump in sales from the ad, on top of their price cuts, but it is going to take a lot more than one Super Bowl ad to turn the market in their favor.
And it looks like Circuit City may be dropping HD DVD in their stores as well. Rumors have been flying around about Circuit City putting HD DVD players on clearance, and now Format War Central has photographic proof. It seems Circuit City is blowing out the HD-A3 for $100 and the HD-A30 for $149, clearly marked ‘Clearance’. With no 4th generation players on the horizon, it would seem that if they clear out the 3rd generation units, there is nothing to replace them.