Toshiba to pull HD plug?®

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The format war has turned into a format death watch.

Toshiba is expected to pull the plug on its HD DVD format in the coming weeks, after a rash of retail defections that followed Warner Home Video's stunning announcement in early January that it would only support the rival Blu-ray Disc format after May.

Officially, no decision has been made, insists Jodi Sally, vp of marketing for Toshiba America Consumer Products. "Based on its technological advancements, we continue to believe HD DVD is the best format for consumers, given the value and consistent quality inherent in our player offerings," she said.

But she hinted that something's in the air. "Given the market developments in the past month," she said, "Toshiba will continue to study the market impact and the value proposition for consumers, particularly in light of our recent price reductions on all HD DVD players."

Immediately after the Warner announcement, the HD DVD North American Promotional Group canceled its Consumer Electronics Show presentation. The following week data collected by the NPD Group gave Blu-ray 93% of all hardware sales for that week.

Toshiba subsequently fired back by drastically cutting its HD DVD player prices by as much as half. But a hoped-for consumer sales surge never materialized, and software sales declined as well.

Chris Tribbey, Home Media Magazine senior reporter, contributed to this report.
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