Toshiba Calls It Quits On HD DVD – Yes, Officially

That’s all folks! The fat lady has sung. The curtain has come down. The format war is over! Yes, really for real this time – it is official. Toshiba has called it quits:

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.

Toshiba will cease all production of HD DVD by the end of March:

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.

I’m thrilled to see the end of this war, doubly so to see Blu-ray finally carry the day. I’ve been calling the war for Blu-ray since before either product shipped, and I was sorry to see a war develop in the first place. Now that the war is over and we’ll have one format going forward I look forward to more Blu-ray title releases and player advancements. There are definitely a few Universal & Paramount titles I look forward to picking up on Blu-ray.

I’m also hopeful that Toshiba will join the BDA and devote their product development expertise toward producing top-notch Blu-ray players. Toshiba’s HD DVD players were decent hardware, and it gives hope that they’ll be able to produce some nice BD decks. I do think they’ll join the BDA, since the alternative is to sit out the next-generation disc market completely. And while Toshiba may have a healthy DVD business, I can’t see them yield the high-def market to the competition without any response. They’re statement seems to indicate they plan to remain a player:

“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.”

Of course, there are still some unanswered questions. Will those who invested in HD DVD players recently get any compensation? (I’d guess no.) How many HD DVD owners will return their players before the return window closes? Will we see a Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360? Would Microsoft consider bundling Blu-ray into a new model of the 360 now that there is one format, to compete more directly with the PS3? (That’s probably a stretch – but I think a BD add-on drive will happen.)

Press release picked up via EngadgetHD.

EDIT. Engadget Japan is at the Toshiba press conference. From the Q&A session:

Q: Any plans to adopt Blu-ray?
A: No plans at all, not at this moment.

Q: Are there no plans for next gen optical disc at all?
A: We don’t have any plans to announce at this time.

Of course, keep in mind that just yesterday Toshiba was stating that no final decision had been made to exit the HD DVD market. So not having any plans at this moment likely means just that – they haven’t decided exactly what they will do going forward and won’t have anything to announce until they’ve had time to formulate those plans.

Interesting to see their figures for HD DVD players sold – since it is quite a bit short of the ‘one million’ figure that the HD DVD camp oft repeated previously:

Q: How many HD DVD players and recorders, exactly, did you sell?
A: 600,000 players in the US — 300,000 of which were Xbox 360 HD DVD drives. 100,000 units were sold in Europe. And about 10,000 players and 20,000 recorders in Japan. So about 730,000 units worldwide.

EDIT 2: I see that, sometime today, Engadget edited their post and it now reads:

Q: How many HD DVD players and recorders, exactly, did you sell?
A: 600,000 players in the US and 300,000 Xbox 360 HD DVD drives. 100,000 units were sold in Europe. And about 10,000 players and 20,000 recorders in Japan. So about 1,030,000 units worldwide.

It looks like they updated it to list the 300,000 Xbox 360 drives *in addition to* the 600,000 standalone players, and not as part of that 600,000. Which puts the total just over the one million mark.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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