And Then There Were Three: RIP HD DVD

The rumors had been swirling ever since the announcements just prior to Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early January. Today, Toshiba made it official: It will end production of HD-DVD players and recorders.

Toshiba itself took longer to come around to the decision, and has offered continuing after-sales service for all owners of its 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 also expects to reduce shipments to retailers immediately, and anticipates a wrap-up of its retail distribution within the next 45 days. It then plans to regroup around its flash memory, small-form factor hard drives, and wireless and encryption technologies.

"Of course we have always said that Toshiba and Microsoft, and any other company, is more than welcome to join the Blu-ray Disc Association," said Frank Simonis, spokesperson for the Blu-ray Disc Association during an interview with TechRadar yesterday. "We are an open organization, with an open disc standard. If Toshiba decides to drop HD DVD we would extend the hand of friendship to them, they are always welcome to join,"

What is Toshiba’s loss is the market’s gain, though, for two reasons:

First, the number of disc-based formats is down to three, including China’s Enhanced Versatile Disc (EVD) standard—which Chinese DVD manufacturers are supposed to be committed to moving to completely by 2008. The EVD format uses a red laser, which means that players can be designed to playback current standard-definition DVDs as well as high-definition DVDs and can supposedly pack more data on the same disc, although every format claims the latter.

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