Wal-Mart Says No Deal on Cheap HD DVD Players

Both Wal-Mart and a Chinese manufacturer want to make it clear this week that no deal has been inked to ship up to 2 million relatively inexpensive HD DVD players to the world's largest retail chain, despite persistent rumors on the Internet that it was a done deal. At the same time, Wal-Mart appears to have not ruled out such an arrangement sometime later this year and suggests if consumers do choose one format over the other, it could happen by the end of 2007.

Fuh Yuan, a Chinese manufacturer, said in April it had received an order for a couple of million low-priced HD DVD players from the big-box store chain, leading to idle speculation that perhaps Wal-Mart had decided to side with that HD disc format over Blu-ray Disc, which is a bit more complicated to mass-produce and typically comes with somewhat higher price points. But the Chinese firm has placed a message on its Web site apologizing for jumping the gun on a potential deal that had not been made.

In part, the statement read: "We are sorry to correct the statement that we have [a] 2 million HD DVD players order from Wal-Mart and manufactured by China Great Wall Group. The actuality is that we had not received [it] yet. We are asked to provide the schedule to Wal-Mart and cost to determine the quantity even more than 2 million, if the cost is good enough and timing is correct. So the capacity is under consideration. Any qualified manufactured base group will be welcome."

Currently, the retailer is offering both HD DVD and Blu-ray players and titles at most of its North American outlets. In a statement given to Video Business, Wal-Mart said, in part:

"...As with all new technologies, we are committed to providing the best value on products that customers choose as most relevant to them. With new industry developments, we will make shifts in our selections as customer preferences evolve and they vote with their purchase. We expect that as prices decrease and new elements are added in the coming months, that consumers will choose which format will dominate, and that could happen by the end of this year."