Toshiba's struggle to promote the HD DVD format has become increasing arduous in recent months. First, Warner Bros. announced it was going Blu-ray exclusive, while rumours persisted that HD-DVD-only studios Universal and Paramount were also jumping ship.
Only days ago, another nail was driven into the coffin as US retail giant Wal-Mart announced it would stop selling the format and associated hardware, while Toshiba was forced to deny widely reported rumours it was about to drop its own format.
Today, rumour turned into fact when Toshiba has confirmed its withdrawal from the HD DVD hardware market. In a statement released this morning, the Japanese manufacturer announced it is planning to cease production of its stand-alone players and recorders by April and will evaluate the demand for HD DVD laptop drives from there.
The company said, "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 time frame, 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."
Toshiba also reiterated its commitment to DVD, stating that "this decision will not impact on Toshiba's commitment to standard DVD, and the company will continue to market conventional DVD players and recorders."
At the time of publishing, Microsoft was unavailable for comment, as was Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. It remains unclear what the future is for the Xbox 360 HD DVD player or if the company now plans to back Blu-ray, which it has alluded to in the past. In a statement released yesterday, Microsoft commented, "We do not believe the recent reports about HD DVD will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace."
The Xbox-maker also said it would wait for an official word from Toshiba before it decided on the fate of the Xbox 360 HD DVD player and said the outcome would not affect its future plans for the Xbox 360.