Toshiba to Delay HD DVD Player Launch

Toshiba has reportedly confirmed what has been speculated for several weeks: It will likely delay its planned late-2005 launch of new-format HD DVD players. If so, the stall would appear to undermine whatever advantage it may have had by being the first supplier to put such next-generation DVD machines on the market [HD Notebook, Aug. 17, 2005].

According to Reuters, however, Toshiba reported that any change in its launch schedule would only be intended to maximize the potential demand for its new products, and it remains committed to its HD DVD format. Toshiba and Sony (with its Blu-ray format) have been battling over their two incompatible DVD schemes for several years.

In the wake of growing skittishness on the part of some manufacturers, marketers, consumer groups and Hollywood content providers, both competing DVD groups held talks this spring and summer in an attempt to resolve the incompatibility issue--a goal that some engineers familiar with both formats say is virtually impossible to achieve, technically, without one format largely conceding to the other.

A breakdown of those discussions led some movie companies to postpone, or sharply scale back, their planned releases of some film titles in the HD DVD format for the coming holiday shopping season. With tens of billions of dollars in potential revenue at stake, both sides seem to at least finally agree on one thing: Consumers will be confused over incompatible formats and refrain from committing much of their spending capital until the matter is cleared up. A workable solution, however, remains elusive.