Toshiba denies plans to drop HD DVD

18 Feb 2008

The rumour mill is working overtime with strong speculation that the end is nigh for the already ailing high-definition DVD format HD DVD, as industry insiders say Toshiba is getting ready to drop production of the disc.

Toshiba has responded to this by not entirely denying the rumours but rather saying that it has not made its mind up either way.

“The media reported that Toshiba will discontinue its HD DVD business,” the company said in an official statement today.

“Toshiba has not made any announcement concerning this. Although Toshiba is currently assessing its business strategies, no decision has been made at this moment,” read the statement in full.”

In the past few months, Blu-ray has been gaining increasing support while HD DVD is being abandoned left, right and centre.

The first nail in the coffin was when Warner Bros Entertainment dropped HD DVD, pledging its allegiance to Blu-ray. It was followed promptly by Newline Cinema.

“After receiving several blows in the past few weeks, the Toshiba-backed HD DVD format is now running on its last legs,” said Carl Gressum, senior analyst at UK technology trends firm Ovum.

Gressum says that in Ovum’s view the HD DVD is a “dead format”, especially after Warner Bros’ exclusive Blu-ray deal, but that it “expects Toshiba and the Promotion Group to officially support the format until April 2008, although in reality the race is now over.”

Gressum said the big worry for Toshiba is where it now stands as an electronic company which on the one hand has HD DVD integration in some of its laptops and on the other hand has the demands from consumers of the high-definition format.

“Toshiba is now stuck between a rock and a hard place and HD DVD will be a big and nasty sword for the Japanese electronics company to fall on,” he added.

As Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been a staunch follower of HD DVD, it issued an official statement today saying that HD DVD or no, it would have no impact on sales of the gaming console because it is primarily a games machine.

“We do not believe the recent reports about HD DVD will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace.”

Microsoft said it will wait until it hears from Toshiba before announcing any specific plans around the Xbox 360 HD DVD player.

By Marie Boran