Sunday, February 17, 2008
Toshiba Halts HD DVD Production, Mulls Future
Japanese electronics maker Toshiba might withdraw its HD DVD next-generation video format, Kyodo News agency reported Saturday.
The report cited unidentified individuals from the industry as saying Toshiba Corp. is reviewing its operations, with the timing of the withdrawal to be decided later, depending on U.S. demand for its HD DVD products and other factors.
Calls went unanswered at Toshiba Corp.'s Tokyo office, which was closed for the weekend.
HD DVD has been competing against the Blu-ray technology, backed by Sony Corp., other makers and five major Hollywood movie studios.
Recently the Blu-ray disc format has been gaining market share, while Toshiba has been forced to slash prices to sell its HD DVD machines. A Toshiba pullout would signal the almost certain defeat of HD DVD to Blu-ray.
On Friday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest U.S. retailer, said it will sell only Blu-ray DVDs and hardware and no longer carry HD DVD offerings.
The announcement came five days after Netflix Inc. said it will cease carrying rentals in HD DVD. Several major U.S. retailers have made similar decisions, including Target Corp. and Blockbuster Inc.
Last month, Warner Bros. Entertainment decided to release movie discs only in the Blu-ray format, becoming the latest studio to reject HD DVD.
Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner Inc., had been the only remaining Hollywood studio releasing high-definition DVDs in both formats.
Both formats deliver crisp, clear high-definition pictures and sound, but they are incompatible with each other, and neither plays on older DVD players.
Only one format has been expected to emerge as the winner, much like VHS trumped Sony's Betamax in the video format battle of the 1980s.
An announcement about Toshiba's HD DVD players and recorders is due next week, says Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
Toshiba has halted production of HD DVD players and recorders and is close to making a decision on whether to throw in the towel on the high-definition movie disc format, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported Saturday evening.
The decision, which NHK said will likely cost the company several tens of billions of dollars, is being made in the face of flagging support by movie studios and major U.S. retailers.
"We are making considerations following the impact on sales of Warner's announcement but we haven't made any decision," said Keisuke Ohmori, a spokesman for Toshiba, when reached on Saturday evening. He was referring to the January decision by Warner Bros to stop issuing movies on HD DVD and go solely with Blu-ray Disc.
Other local media reports on Saturday said an official announcement from Toshiba is likely in the coming week.
HD DVD has been battling Blu-ray Disc for just under two years to become the defacto replacement for DVD for high-definition video. HD DVD is backed by Toshiba and a handful of other companies including Microsoft and Intel but Blu-ray Disc counted a larger number of consumer electronics heavy hitters. The main backer of the format is Sony and other supporters include Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung, LG and Philips.
Both formats delivered a similar audio and video quality and the main difference comes down to the movies available on each format. Most movie studios have taken one side or the other so consumers are left with a difficult decision. As a result many have walked away from stores with neither an HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc player and the market has performed poorly.
The Warner Bros decision in January has been seen by many as the beginning of the end for HD DVD. With Warner pulling out HD DVD only two of the major Hollywood studios, Paramount and Universal, are left backing the format.
In the weeks since the Warner announcement things have gotten worse for HD DVD. In the last week Netflix, an Internet-based movie rental company in the U.S., said it would cease supporting HD DVD and then on Friday Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the U.S., said it would stop selling HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray Disc.
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 1:29 PM