Toshiba has abandoned its HD DVD format, declaring it will no longer develop, make or market HD DVD players and recorders. The quickly taken decision to drop the format makes Sony's Blu-ray technology the new standard for high definition DVDs. The resolution of the HD format battle is expected to spur a rapid take up of new Blu-ray machines as well as prompting a new round of HD television sales. It will also bolster DVD rentals and sales, which compete against cinema and both traditional and IP based TV, especially video on demand.
The win gives Sony a decisive head start in the race to dominate the set-top box Internet gateway to the television. Sony already embeds Blu-ray disc readers in its Playstation 3 game console and has begun integrating an IPTV platform into the same machines in Korea. The main competitor for set-top dominance is Microsoft, which has also begun to ship its IPTV software in the Xbox 360 in the U.K. Microsoft had backed the Toshiba led HD DVD format, as did Intel and HP.
Toshiba's decision to abandon the format came quickly after the largest U.S. retailer, Wal-mart, late last week said it would only stock Blu-ray machines. A week earlier number two retailer Best Buy and video distributor Netflix both committed to Blu-ray. "We concluded that a swift decision would be best," Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida said. Nishida said Warner Bros. Entertainment's switch to the Blu-ray format made the move inevitable. "That had a tremendous impact," he said. "If we had continued, that would have created problems for consumers, and we simply had no chance to win."
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