Toshiba delivers its Betamax address

Toshiba delivers its Betamax address

Summary: Toshiba officially dropped its plans for HD DVD Tuesday after Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Netflix and a parade of others abandoned the high-definition video format for Sony's Blu-ray.The statement indicates the obvious--HD DVD was doomed.

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Toshiba officially dropped its plans for HD DVD Tuesday after Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Netflix and a parade of others abandoned the high-definition video format for Sony's Blu-ray. The statement indicates the obvious--HD DVD was doomed. The writing on the wall has been there for a while with the wheels really beginning to fall off the wagon at CES. Wal-Mart's announcement last week that it was going to support Sony's Blu-ray format solely basically put the final nail in the coffin.

Simply put, Toshiba has been Betamaxed. A few decades ago there were two video cassette recorder formats--VHS and Betamax. Betamax was championed by Sony, but lost out to the VHS format. Once that format scrum was resolved VCR sales took off.

It's going to be the same story here. Toshiba had no choice but to punt on HD DVD--and it's great news for the consumer that this format war didn't drag on for years and years. See Adrian Kingsley-Hughes' and Robin Harris' takes. Also: George Ou cracks open a Toshiba HD DVD player [gallery].

Here's Toshiba's surrender speech, which you could call its Betamax address, BTL style:

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.

Translation: We had no choice. But please don't buy any Toshiba HD DVD products even if they are dirt cheap. It costs us money to support.

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." Translation: It's going to quite annoying to license Sony's format.

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. Translation: So we goofed on HD DVD. We've got other stuff. By the way we have to say that.

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.

Translation: We're going to try and make HD lemonade here if possible with notebooks.

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. Translation: We're still a player.

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.

Translation: We'll be back....

Topics: Toshiba, Hardware, Mobility

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110 comments
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  • The writing was on the wall

    I think it was pretty much game over for HD-DVD once Sony bundled the BR drive in the PS3. Although that can be balanced by Sony's usual failures in introducing formats. See: Betamax, MiniDisc, Hi8, Memory stick and UMD.
    Salman Pak
    • Whose Choice?

      This is a very true statement; yet, I have a problem with the death of a good format simply because a retailer refuses to market it without any consideration for what the consumer may want. I still think the consumer is the loser in this situation.
      kg6ygs
      • re:

        imagine if there were only one brand of tooth paste, one brand of shampoo, one brand of shoes.

        you could destroy the economy overnight.
        pcguy777
      • Get with it....

        This decision is all about the consumer. Open your nose and smell the coffee. If consumers preferred HD, and bought it, that's where the format would go. We haven't and Sony cleverly punted a PS3 with Blu-ray for less than the price of HD players. Regardless of the marketing; this is a consumer led decision. Nobody stops selling stuff consumers want to buy if they can make money. Toshiba are simply saying they can cut their losses and start making money by jumping on the Sony&Co bandwagon.

        And we can ALL join the party. Long live Blu Ray and let the party begin!

        I do feel sympathy for the HD buyers but I'm sure falling prices will assist them in the long run too. There are always casualties, I'm just glad I've stood back this time.
        johnmckay
  • Too bad, I prefered HD-DVD

    Will peole flock to buy Blu-Ray now? Will people buy more Blu-Ray discs because of it? It's hard to say. I suppose it's possible but with the price of Blu-Ray content better come down for this happen. I doubt that will happen though, greed you know. Personally I doubt I'll buy one just plainly due to the fact that I'm not planning on buying an HD TV anytime soon. So why bother paying more for Blu-ray if I can't use it anyways?

    As to why I prefered HD-DVD was it played all my disc from CDs to DVD and HD-DVDs if I got them in future. I heard Blu-Ray won't play CDs. So that means I need CD player as well as a Blu-Ray player. I personally just lack the room for that.
    voska1
    • Huh???

      >>I heard Blu-Ray won't play CDs. So that means I need CD player as well as a Blu-Ray player. <<

      This is what is wrong with competing formats... too much fud... Blu-Ray does indeed play both DVDs and CDs....
      jparrott1
      • So true

        Wading through the FUD is a big problem. What's true and what's not. Maybe it was the PS3 only or only certain players or maybe it's FUD or what ever.

        Still have no use for the Blu-Ray player at this time though.
        voska1
        • Well...

          if you didn't have an HD TV, what use did you have for a HD DVD player?
          RocketEater
          • In the PC for Data not movies

            HD-DVD was significantly cheaper and I got one actually for Free to boot. Haven't actually used it though.
            voska1
          • You do not need HD equipement to enjoy HD material

            Those new format is much more than just higher rez... it uses way better codecs as well... On my non HD projector, HD movies looks way better..

            Vc-1 and h.264 makes a huge difference
            ParanoidAI
          • Huh!

            Hmm, I never thought of it like that! I guess I'm gonna have to test this myself using a combo format HD-DVD and a regular TV. Oh yeah... and don't forget the bonus features.
            TrackStar1682
    • you have been misinformed

      Blu-ray does play cd and dvds just fine. Blu-ray is the future. The games on blu-ray are so much better. the movies are better. Plain and simply Blu-Ray so much better!!
      itguy26
      • Games

        I don't care how much better Blu-Ray is for games they still can't beat a good PC game on your Hard drive.
        voska1
        • Console vs PC Games

          Voska,

          While your mileage may vary, modern console games aren't like they used to be. Circa 2000-2002, I would agree that the PC was the better gaming platform. I think that's changed now, with XBox360 and the PS3.

          My brother went through three XBox 360's before he gave up and bought a PS3. He's been kicking himself for not going with the PS3 to begin with, but we have a bias for liking the XBox!
          http://www.advancetool.com/ (Click on electronics, then picture #4!). My uncle's company did all of the plastic-injection molds for creating the XBox and XBox360, to name a few projects.


          -Mike
          SpikeyMike
          • As gamer I use both

            I've tried the X-box 360 and PS3 and both are great improvements over the previous consoles. I can't say a console is crap but some games are just great for consoles and some are just great for the PC. I've tried games that were PC games first then ported to the console and they suck. I've also played console game ported to the PC and they suck. Playing them on the platform they were designed for though worked best.

            Another thing that bugs me about consoles is how many crap games they have. In the PC gaming market it seems games are held to a higher standard. Not saying all the console games suck as there are some really great ones out there just for every really great one you get a dozen hack jobs of games release that are pure crap. I guess it's like any other market where you have the good quality movies and music and a slew of B rated movies and obscure songs.

            The thing I find with PC games is what you get today you see on the next generation consoles a few years later. Some games though just won't work on a game pad no matter how hard they try to do it. One I find is first person shooters. I find they just don't work as well on console and they do on the PC.

            I have to say that my next console I buy will probably be a Wii. Now that console might not have the fancy graphics but it sure packs the fun factor in.

            One issue I do have with consoles is price. Used to be I'd buy all of them due to exclusives but today that's just way to high of cost. At least with the PC I can justify the cost because the PC does so much more than just play games.
            voska1
          • Message has been deleted.

            korlortar
      • ok, fanboy...

        You sound like an advertisement.
        TrackStar1682
    • now i get it. walmart sells more stuff based on your analogy

      the consumer loses... the retailer wins.

      HEY Walmart!!! Im going to go out of my way to NOT buy ANY electronics at your stores from now on.

      what do you think of that.
      pcguy777
      • electronics + walmart = oxymoron

        Surely this won't BEGIN your aversion to Walmart...

        I make a habit to not buy anything there that has an instruction booklet w/ it. Some things (oil, water, similar) you just can't f'up, but anything complicated enough for instructions.... wm finds a way. Especially their electronics though, too many "over-cheaped" components fill their devices.

        Russian Roulette, at a discount.
        jxb
      • Walmart Beware!

        Walmart beware! PCGuy777 is going to do what no one has been able to do to date - bring Walmart to it's knees! You go PCGuy777!
        danspaw31