bluhd.JPGUPDATE: Universal On HD-DVD Surrender

The big news out of Tokyo this morning is that Toshiba announced that it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD-DVD players and recorders. So from now on, the more expensive Blu-ray format developed by Sony will become the hardware and the entertainment industry’s software high-def standard. “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 begin to reduce shipments of HD-DVD players and recorders to retailers and then stop completely as soon as March. Toshiba also plans to end volume production of HD-DVD disk drives for PCs and games in the same timeframe. (The company will continue to market conventional DVD players and recorders.)

So what does this mean vis a vis Hollywood? Well, in the short run, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and DreamWorks Animation are screwed. (Although the latter two studios got hefty payouts for promotional consideration by the HD-DVD side even though they chose the loser format…) It also means someone in the Blu-ray camp owes Warner Bros bigtime since that proved to be the deciding battle in the format war. And Sir Howard Stringer keeps his job as head of Sony. Of course, now’s a good time for Howie to step down and retire. Because this is, after all, just a Pyrrhic victory since the Blu-ray player market will never take off what with electronic sell-through just a few years away from becoming mainstream.

And lastly, I smell a class action lawsuit by some crafty lawyers filed on behalf of all those poor saps who bought $99 Toshiba HD-DVD players at Christmas and now are stuck with the 2008 version of Sony’s old Betamax machines.

  1. HI-DEF FORMAT WAR OVER! Wal-Mart & Sam’s Club Join Best Buy & Netflix In Choosing Blu-Ray
  2. Blu-ray/HD-DVD War Almost Won Today
  3. HD-DVD Cancels CES Dog-&-Pony Show; Cites “Impact” Of Warner Bros’ Blu-Ray
  4. Warner Bros Will Release Exclusively In Blu-ray Hi-Def Format
  5. Wal-Mart & Best Buy Hugely Discounting Xmas HD-DVD Players
  6. Blu-ray/HD DVD: Which Hollywood Studio Accused Of ‘Big Ass, Fat, Stupid Lie’?
  7. Michael Bay Switches Support To HD-DVD
  8. Michael Bay Says To Paramount: No Blu-Ray, So No ‘Transformers’ Sequel!
  9. Desperation Move & Cash Grab? Or Bloodier Blu-ray/HD-DVD Format War?