Toshiba Has No Plans to Make Blu-Ray Players
Despite of the fact that Toshiba Corp. has no plans to develop and manufacture HD DVD hardware after March 08, the company also has no plans to become part of the Blu-ray disc (BD) Association (BDA) and start making BD players.
Thanks to the fact that HD DVD emerged on the market in its final version, unlike the Blu-ray, it has been adopted by end-users a little slowly, but surely. Thanks to relatively low prices, standalone HD DVD players proved to be comparatively popular among end-users and thanks to good attach rates of movies major HD DVD backers were confident in the future of the format. However, the announcement by Time Warner-owned studios to release new movies exclusively in rivaling Blu-ray disc format caused substantial problems for HD DVD, Toshiba admitted at its press conference in Tokyo, Japan.
From an objective, fair point of view, we were clearly in a good place until last December and January. So we were very, very surprised by Warners announcement. As for the Aomori factory [where HD DVD players by Toshiba are produced], nothing is final at this moment, said Atsutoshi Nishida, president and chief executive officer of Toshiba Corp., reports Engadget web-site.
Since DVD is set to vanish into thin air in the next few years and due to the lack of HD DVD alternative Blu-ray disc will become a default high-definition home video format, it would be logical for Toshiba to adopt the format developed by Philips and Sony Corp. However, the Japanese electronics conglomerate has no plans to support the competing high-def standard in the foreseeable future, at least.
No plans at all [to adopt Blu-ray], not at this moment, Mr. Nishida is quoted as saying.
It is necessary to note that apart from the optical disc drive itself as well as firmware difference, virtually all Toshibas HD DVD players are truly similar to the yet-to-be-made-available Blu-ray profile 2.0 players. All HD DVD players feature two video decoders to enable picture-in-picture (PiP) capability, Internet connectivity as well as up to 1GB local storage. Meanwhile, Blu-ray profile 1.0 players, which are available widely, do not support any of the aforementioned features; Blu-ray profile 1.1 players sport PiP capability and 256MB storage and Blu-ray profile 2.0 players feature picture-in-picture, Internet connectivity and 1GB local storage.
As a result, Toshiba can easily migrate to Blu-ray or universal HD DVD/Blu-ray players by changing optical disc drive and loading a new firmware version. However, it looks like the absence of plans to adopt BD at the moment has more to do with Toshibas policy as well as BDAs $30 Blu-ray technology licensing fee.
Live from Toshiba's HD DVD press conference in Tokyo
Engadget Japan is live at Toshiba's HD DVD press conference in Tokyo right now. It's nearing 5PM, when the bell is expected to toll for HD DVD, and we can all move on with our new lives as Blu-ray (or download) buying consumers. It won't be in the usual second-by-second coverage, but we'll do our best to have live updates as they come in, so check back to this post.
IT'S OVER! The release just hit the wires even before Toshiba started talking. "Toshiba Announces Discontinuation of HD DVD Businesses."
5:00PM - Right on time, Toshiba's president, Nishida-san, takes the podium. He is talking about how great and advanced HD DVD was. WAS. He is also speaking about how Toshiba shared a good partnership with Warner. "There was a difficult decision. Multiple standards have a huge impact on consumers."
5:15 - Now he's just reading from the release, more or less. They're on to bigger and better things: two new NAND factories in Japan, one will be jointly-operated with SanDisk.
5:21 - Q&A time!
Three part Q: what was the cause of HD DVD's failure? What is Toshiba doing with its Aomori HD DVD factory? And what about the timing of the announcement?
A: From an objective, fair point of view, we were clearly in a good place until last December and January. So we were very, very surprised by Warner's announcement. As for the Aomori factory, nothing is final at this moment.
Q: Any plans to adopt Blu-ray?
A: No plans at all, not at this moment.
More after the break.
Q: Are there no plans for next gen optical disc at all?
A: We don't have any plans to announce at this time.
Q: Is there any risk of a class action lawsuit against Toshiba for the format war?
A: [For early adopters] there will be always be a risk in buying, that is how it works in the US. We are just hardware maker, so our legal risk is relatively low, we believe.
Q: What is the next-gen NAND flash memory you'll be producing? What does that mean, exactly?
A: 3D NAND is a possible candidate, but just one of them. To avoid any confusion, we cannot say which next-gen memory technology Toshiba will choose to pursue. Nothing is final.
Nishida-san's now answering why the construction will take such long time on the new factory, explaining about how its construction will make it virtually earthquake-proof.
Q: How about the process size of new factory? Is that 32nm?
A: I can't answer that. [laughs]
Q: How many HD DVD players and recorders, exactly, did you sell?
A: 600,000 players in the US and 300,000 Xbox 360 HD DVD drives. 100,000 units were sold in Europe. And about 10,000 players and 20,000 recorders in Japan. So about 1,030,000 units worldwide.
With regard to future media availability, should disc companies will cease production (oh they will!) Toshiba will buy enough discs for current Japanese HD DVD recorder users and resell them online. Now Nishida is talking about how upconverted DVD still looks great.
It's official. Toshiba just made a statement saying, " it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders." Cessation of the player and recorders are targeted for March 2008. Volume production of HD DVD disk drives for PCs and games will end in the same time frame. However, Atsutoshi Nishida, President and CEO of Toshiba Corporation did say that Toshiba will, "continue to assess the position of notebook PCs with integrated HD DVD drives." That's it folks, the format war is over, Blu-ray has won. Full press release after the break.
Update: Besides stating "no plans" to go Blu-ray during the Q&A, Toshiba committed to stockpiling HD DVD recording media for those who own HD DVD recorders. These will be sold on-line. As for future HD DVD software releases, Mr. Nishida could only say, "it was not our business, we cannot predict their business." Oh really? Is the lack of new titles on a dead platform really so hard to predict?
Toshiba Announces Discontinuation of HD DVD Businesses
19 February, 2008
Company Remains Focused on Championing Consumer Access to High Definition Content
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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