This has been a long time coming and the recent rumours made us all but sure it would: Toshiba has finally bitten the bullet and declared that it is pulling its support for HD DVD. The official reasoning from Toshiba President and CEO, Atsutoshi Nishida, is as follows:
"We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called 'next-generation format war' and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop. While we are disappointed for the company and more importantly, for the consumer, the real mass market opportunity for high definition content remains untapped and Toshiba is both able and determined to use our talent, technology and intellectual property to make digital convergence a reality."
Current plans would have Toshiba's shipping of HD DVD players end by the end of March. Importantly, although the company won't be supporting the format going forwards, existing owners of HD DVD players will still receive the same level of support - so fret ye not.
Interestingly, in a Q&A session after this announcement was made, Nishida also went on to say that Toshiba has "no plans at the moment " to start supporting Blu-ray. It seems strange that the company would not want to stay on in the high definition marketplace, so personally I don't expect that stance to last for too long.
It could be argued that this isn't the end of HD DVD as a format, seeing as there are still other parties backing it, but common sense would suggest that having lost its main backer, the format isn't going to last. Two minutes silence seems appropriate, then we can all move on and go buy Blu-ray players.
UPADTE: - by Andy Vandervell
Speaking to TrustedReviews, Deputy General Manager of HD DVD in Europe, Olivier van Wynendaele, confirmed to us that Toshiba will continue to offer after sales support for players, including Firmwire upgrades to address specific issues and disc support where appropriate.
He also confirmed, somewhat unsurprisingly and reasonably, that Toshiba still believe HD DVD was the superior format:
"Yes, we believe that HD DVD was the best proposition for consumers…this is why we are quite disappointed that we've had to make this decision now. We're disappointed for consumers and obviously for the company as well."
He added that Warner Borthers' decision to go Blu-ray exclusive was indeed a primary factor in Toshiba and its partners reconsidering the sustainability of the format. However, he was unable to make any comment on how this announcement would affect the company's PC offerings, specifically the Qosmio line of notebooks that offer HD DVD drives. Will it add Blu-ray drives instead and will it eventually start producing players? Only time can tell.