It's been a rough year for Toshiba's HD DVD format. After spending 2006 and 2007 locked in a heated battle with the Sony-backed Blu-ray for high-definition, high-capacity disc format dominance, HD DVD has suffered a series of devastating setbacks in the first two months of the year.
Warner Bros. kicked 2008 off by going Blu-ray exclusive in the first week of January. An apparently panicked HD DVD camp canceled its Consumer Electronics Show conference in response, and reports quickly surfaced that HD DVD holdouts Paramount and Universal were looking to switch to Blu-ray.
Bad news for HD DVD fans is continuing to snowball this week, as Best Buy and movie rental service Netflix both said they would back the Sony-supported format going forward. (Best Buy will still stock HD DVD, but its salespeople will advise prospective customers to go Blu-ray).
Two more big names came up as abandoning HD DVD today. This morning the official Wal-Mart blog confirmed that the massive retail chain is going Blu-ray exclusive by June, and the Hollywood Reporter is citing "reliable industry sources" for the news that Toshiba itself is ready to drop its own format.
A Toshiba representative denied the news to the film-focused trade newspaper, but left plenty of room for people to infer there is some truth to the report.
"Given the market developments in the past month," the rep is quoted as saying, "Toshiba will continue to study the market impact and the value proposition for consumers, particularly in light of our recent price reductions on all HD DVD players."
A source "close to the HD-DVD camp" told the paper that an announcement could be made in a matter of weeks, but that it is definitely coming soon.