NEWS: Toshiba will not make Blu-ray players – but it will support existing HD DVD owners

Toshiba will continue to support the 700,000+ customers worldwide who bought one of its HD DVD players, but the company has no intention of joining the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) or making a Blu-ray player.

So says Olivier van Wynendaele, Toshiba's deputy general manager of HD DVD Europe, in an interview with

"We are obviously very sad about the announcement we have had to make today, both for the consumer and the HD DVD format, but we will continue to support existing owners by honouring warranties and offering upgrades if required," says van Wynendaele.

Asked why he thought the HD DVD format had failed, van Wynendaele was very clear: "The trigger was the decision by Warner Bros at CES in January to drop HD DVD in favour of Blu-ray. That was a very big surprise to us.

"We responded by pushing the affordability of our players, which worked well for a while, but it became clear after CES that the industry was becoming increasingly unfavourable to our format. Retailers and manufacturers in the US and UK were increasingly supporting Blu-ray, and we had to face the industry reality that Blu-ray was the preferred format."

Toshiba says it will phase out its current HD DVD range by the end of March. "We intended our players to be state-of-the-art DVD video upscalers, and they're still a great proposition for DVD playback," adds van Wynendaele.

Toshiba has "no plans to make a Blu-ray player, and will not join the BDA", he says.

"Whether Blu-ray will ultimately replace DVD is open to question. New optical disc formats such as Blu-ray may never be as successful as DVD was. There's still plenty of life left in DVD – it won't disappear."

As to whether Paramount and Universal will continue to release films on HD DVD, he says that's a matter for them. No announcement has yet been made.

Giving a hint of Toshiba's future strategy, van Wynendaele says: "Digital distribution is increasing, and we may propose some other strategy for high-definition in the future. We are working on flash memory chips, CPUs, hard drives and so on all of which can be applied to the distribution of HD content."

Toshiba claims to have sold 600,000 HD DVD players in the US, and 100,000 in Europe.

Technorati Tags: Blu-ray, HD DVD, Toshiba

Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.