HD DVD Fallout May Start With a Trickle

Feb 21, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Discounts, anyone?
Despite Toshiba’s announcement this week that it would discontinue its HD DVD next-generation player next month, most large U.S. retailers maintained their prices for the company’s entry-level players, indicating that the switch to Sony’s competing Blu-ray format may take longer than Blu-ray loyalists and some movie-studio heads are forecasting.
Target and Best Buy were listing Toshiba’s HD-A3 player at the company’s suggested retail price of $149.99 as of Wednesday morning. Wal-Mart, which preceded Toshiba by saying last week it would phase out HD DVD players this year, cut the HD-A3 price by 7% to $139.28.
Only Amazon.com reduced prices substantially. The world’s largest online retailer, which Wednesday said it would begin displaying competing Blu-ray players more prominently, marked down the HD-A3 player by a third to $99.99 while cutting the price of the midlevel HD-D3 by more than 60% to $115.95.
On the software side, both Blockbuster and Netflix said Wednesday that their plans to move toward Blu-ray, announced before Toshiba’s discontinuation of the format, wouldn’t be altered. Netflix will keep its inventory of more than 400 HD DVD titles while Blockbuster will maintain HD DVD discs in 250 stores (it began stocking Blu-ray titles at 1,700 stores in July).
Meanwhile, at least one manufacturer said it would still make HD DVD-compatible players. LG Electronics, which began making a multiformat player last year, told the U.K.’s Sky News that it would continue to manufacture its hybrid player. LG’s Super Blu High-Definition Multiplayer was available at Best Buy for $799 and unavailable on Amazon.com as of Wednesday.
“LG believes that at this present moment in time, it is necessary to provide a player which supports both formats and therefore creates simplicity and convenience for the existing HD DVD consumer,” a Sky News reporter said in the report.
All of this may support at least one analyst’s theory that Toshiba’s announcement won’t unleash a flood of demand from HD DVD customers to Blu-ray. Blu-ray prices, which remain about double those for HD DVD players, and other forms of high-definition content delivery may prevent many standard and HD DVD player owners from making the switch, Paul Erickson, director of DVD and HD market research for NPD Group unit DisplaySearch, said in a statement Wednesday.
“As the environment for delivering high-definition content is considerably more competitive than the environment faced by DVD when it supplanted VHS,” said Mr. Erickson. “The future of next generation DVD as the consumer’s preferred HD content delivery method is far from certain.”



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