Ending a longstanding format war, Toshiba on Tuesday formally announced that it would halt production of HD DVD devices and discs, all but rendering the format obsolete. In a confirmation of Japanese reports, the company plans to wind down hardware production by March for both stand-alone movie players and PC drives. Development of notebook HD DVD drives, such as for the company's own Qosmio line, will depend largely on demand. Writable HD DVD media will also continue to exist past March to cater to owners who need the format for burning video or computer data.
No mention has been made of how Toshiba will cater to movie studios Paramount and Universal, both of whom are still formally pledged to HD DVD. Warner Bros. also remains committed to releasing in both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats until June.
The end to HD DVD leaves approximately one million HD DVD devices in use, with most represented by Toshiba's movie players such as the HD-A3. At 300,000 units, nearly a third of these are Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on, which is likely to be discontinued without a replacement PC drive available. Computer builders such as HP are also expected to see a minor impact as they discontinue HD DVD drive options, although HP and others offer Blu-ray or else remain platform-agnostic, such as with Apple.
However, Toshiba chief Atsutoshi Nishida at a press event revealed that his company has "no plan at all" to implement Blu-ray as a replacement, suggesting instead that the company's emphasis on flash drives and small hard disks, processors such as Cell, and related technologies would still represent help to high-definition videos. Microsoft, however, is rumored to be developing an Xbox 360 Blu-ray drive for May to fill in the gap left by Toshiba.
Sony and other Blu-ray supporters have yet to comment on the move, which effectively hands victory to their standard. The format is widely believed to have gained the upper hand through Sony's PlayStation 3 console, which comes with Blu-ray as standard. The console alone is responsible for several million units and has provided Blu-ray with a much larger potential audience, though HD DVD backers regularly insisted that it should not factor into marketshare given its gaming focus.