It's over: Blu-ray Disc has won the battle of the two high definition disc formats.
I don’t normally report on items not related to universal remote controls, but this is an important event to anyone with a home theater system or in the business of consumer electronics.
Although heavily rumored for the past few days, today at 5PM Tokyo time (that’s 3AM Eastern time Tuesday morning) Toshiba has made it official by announcing that they will be discontinuing their HD DVD business. With Warner’s recent departure from HD DVD as the first strong blow to the format in January, followed by a quick jab from Best Buy early last week and a one-two combination by Netflix and Wal-Mart later that week, Toshiba has conceded that HD DVD is not going to prevail.
This, of course, means that Blu-ray Disc is the official victor of the physical high definition delivery system battle, just as VHS triumphed over Beta in the 80’s. However the high definition media war is not yet over, with Internet-based HD delivery and even newer DVD upscaling systems still threatening to keep BD as a niche product like DAT, MD or SACD, rather than a mass-market technology such as CD or DVD. But now that there’s a single unified technology, consumers will find it easier to jump into the HD market with no fear that the hardware and discs they buy will be made obsolete in the near future.
It will be interesting to see how other companies supporting HD DVD, such as Universal, Paramount, Dreamworks and Microsoft, will respond in the coming days and weeks.
Check out the official press release below.
Toshiba Announces Discontinuation of HD DVD Businesses
Company Remains Focused on Championing Consumer Access to High Definition Content
Tokyo—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.
HD DVD was developed to offer consumers access at an affordable price to high-quality, high definition content and prepare them for the digital convergence of tomorrow where the fusion of consumer electronics and IT will continue to progress.
“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.”
Toshiba will continue to lead innovation, in a wide range of technologies that will drive mass market access to high definition content. These include high capacity NAND flash memory, small form factor hard disk drives, next generation CPUs, visual processing, and wireless and encryption technologies. The company expects to make forthcoming announcements around strategic progress in these convergence technologies.
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.
This decision will not impact on Toshiba’s commitment to standard DVD, and the company will continue to market conventional DVD players and recorders. Toshiba intends to continue to contribute to the development of the DVD industry, as a member of the DVD Forum, an international organization with some 200 member companies, committed to the discussion and defining of optimum optical disc formats for the consumer and the related industries.
Toshiba also intends to maintain collaborative relations with the companies who joined with Toshiba in working to build up the HD DVD market, including Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and DreamWorks Animation and major Japanese and European content providers on the entertainment side, as well as leaders in the IT industry, including Microsoft, Intel, and HP. Toshiba will study possible collaboration with these companies for future business opportunities, utilizing the many assets generated through the development of HD DVD.
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