Following several days of rumors, Toshiba has confirmed that it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders, effectively ending the high-def format war.
In a just-issued press release, the company said that it reached the decision following "recent major changes in the market." Toshiba emphasized that it will continue to provide full product support and after-sales service for all owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.
“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 said it will begin reducing shipments of HD DVD players and recorders immediately, with the aim of pulling all HD DVD players, recorders and disc drives from store shelves by March. The company went on to say that it would "continue to assess" the long-term viability of notebook PCs with integrated HD DVD drives.
Asked at a Tokyo press conference whether his company had any plans to adopt Blu-ray, Nishida said Toshiba had no such plans at the moment.
HD DVD first hit stores in April of 2006, and enjoyed an early sales lead against rival format Blu-ray up until the release of Sony's Blu-ray enabled PlayStation 3 later that year.
Though Blu-ray software outsold HD DVD throughout 2007, a series of tactical moves from the HD DVD camp kept the format in the game up until early this January, when Warner Bros announced it would drop its HD DVD support and would release its titles on Blu-ray exclusively, beginning this June.
In the weeks that followed, HD DVD backers vowed to fight on, issuing a series of price drops and embarking on a new marketing campaign, but it wasn't enough to convince retailers to stick with the fledgling format. Faced with the prospect of diminishing prominence at such top US retailers as Best Buy and Wal-Mart, insiders say it was only a matter of time before Toshiba would pull the plug.