- 18 Feb 08, 15:18 GMT
The message from Japan this morning is that the HD format war isn't over - Toshiba says "We are currently assessing our business strategies, but nothing has been decided at this moment." But you'll struggle to find anyone in the business who believes that HD-DVD players will still be coming off the production lines six months from now.
First, the movie studios moved decisively into the Blu-Ray camp, then giant American retailers like Wal-Mart followed suit. You can still get HD-DVD players in some stores and online. But the prices tell their own story. On Amazon today you can buy what looks like quite a high-spec player for just £117.99 with two movies chucked in. Bearing in mind that you could have paid four times as much a year ago, it looks like the fire-sale is starting.
For all those who've invested billions in getting both HD formats off the ground the end will come as a relief. Even Toshiba will able to refocus its business and stop pouring money down the drain - and its shares have risen today in anticipation of the lifting of the HD-DVD burden.
Sony will be celebrating and preparing a marketing blitz for Blu-Ray. But it may not reap the same rewards as its opponents in the VHS v Betamax battle of the early 1980s. For nearly two decades VHS was the only medium for recording and watching television. But Blu-Ray will have fierce competition from the online alternatives. Right now, few people have the bandwidth or storage to make downloading an HD movie an attractive option, but that will change.
The real losers though are those who have bought an HD-DVD player. Sure, they will be able to continue playing the discs they've already acquired and old DVDs. But they may choose instead to put the machine in the loft and wait for it to become a valuable antique.
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