I'm not sure what Toshiba had originally planned for its CES Press conference, but I'm fairly certain that it hadn't expected to be talking about one the major movie studio supporters of HD DVD leaving the format out in the cold. Jodi Sally - VP of Marketing A/V - took to the stage to express her bewilderment at Warner Brothers' decision to stop its support for HD DVD and instead jump solely into the Blu-ray camp. I have to say that I was a little shell shocked at Warner Brothers' announcement a couple of days ago, especially when you consider that some of the most spectacular examples of HD DVD's capabilities over the past 12 months have come from Warner Brothers.
Jodi continued by making it very clear that HD DVD had been a very successful format in 2007, with almost one million players in American homes. She also hammered home the fact that HD DVD players have offered a full feature set since day one, while we're only starting to see fully functional Blu-ray players now, two years after the retail launch. Of course all this is true, and the fact that HD DVD was a fully ratified standard from the off definitely made it a more compelling option, as did the cheaper hardware, but as we saw with VHS and Betamax, the best format doesn't necessarily win. Ultimately, the one key problem that HD DVD has always had is manufacturer support, with Toshiba being the only major manufacturer of players around the world.
Toshiba insisted that it wasn't giving up on HD DVD, but with one of the format's biggest supporters walking away, the situation is not looking good. As things stand, Paramount is still solely supporting HD DVD, while Universal is also continuing its support of the format, but only time will tell how long that continues. It also doesn't bode well that the HD DVD consortium decided to cancel its Press conference in light of the Warner announcement. I am due to have a meeting with the HD DVD consortium later this week, so hopefully I'll get some more information then.