The war is over...

Toshiba said Tuesday it will no longer develop, make or market HD DVD players and recorders, handing a victory to rival Blu-ray disc technology in the format battle for next-generation video.

"We concluded that a swift decision would be best," Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida told reporters at his company's Tokyo offices.

The move would make Blu-ray — backed by Sony Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic brand products, and five major Hollywood movie studios — the winner in the battle over high-definition DVD formatting that began several years ago.

Nishida said last month's decision by Warner Bros. Entertainment to release movie discs only in the Blu-ray format made the move inevitable.

"That had tremendous impact," he said. "If we had continued, that would have created problems for consumers, and we simply had no chance to win."

Warner joined Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Co. and News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox in that move.

Toshiba's pulling the plug on the technology is expected to reduce the number of new high-definition movies that people will be able to watch on HD DVD machines. Toshiba Corp. said shipments of HD DVD machines to retailers will be reduced and will stop by end of March.

Friday's decision by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest U.S. retailer, to sell only Blu-ray DVDs and hardware appeared to deal a final blow to the Toshiba format. Just five days earlier, Netflix Inc. said it will cease carrying rentals in HD DVD.

Several major American retailers had already made similar decisions, including Target Corp. and Blockbuster Inc.

Also adding to Blu-ray's momentum was the gradual increase in sales of Sony's PlayStation 3 home video-game console, which also works as a Blu-ray player. Sony has sold 10.5 million PS3 machines worldwide since the machine went on sale late 2006.

Guess it is time to shell out for that PS3.

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