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It's Officially Over

Feb 19th, 2008
Rest in peace, HD DVD

The format war has ended.

At a news conference held in Japan on Tuesday afternoon, Toshiba Corporation president and CEO Atsutoshi Nishida announced, “We have reviewed the overall strategy for the HD DVD and concluded that it is best that we not further develop, manufacture, and market HD DVD players and recorders. This was a very difficult decision to make...but when we thought about the trouble we would cause to consumers and our partners, we decided it was not right for us to keep going with such a small presence. 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. 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.”

When asked, Nishida stated that Toshiba has “absolutely no plans” to manufacture or market Blu-ray Disc players. I suspect that may change. Even Sony eventually sold VHS machines after its Betamax lost in a similar format war.

Toshiba will cease production of its HD DVD players and recorders immediately and close out the business by the end of March. The company is expected to continue to support the installed base of HD DVD players. And as I wrote yesterday, Universal and Paramount are now free to start producing content on Blu-ray Disc; it will be interesting to see how these studios react to the news. Will they continue to produce HD DVDs?

I applaud Toshiba's sound business decision; it will help stimulate the transition from standard definition discs to high definition discs.