Why Toshiba shouldn’t give up on HD-DVD

Everyone has made this out to be a format war. And it is. It’s Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD. And with the recent developments, no one knows where HD-DVD stands, but it sure seems like it’s at death’s door doesn’t it. Even has a deathwatch going for it now.
Here’s the thing. What consumers are letting go of is a monopoly on format. If there are multiple mediums, this allows each format to compete and drive prices down. Currently, with the “winner” taking most of the market? You can guarantee you won’t be seeing players drop in price anytime in the near future.
How does that help consumers? What about media? Your Blu-ray mediums aren’t going down in price. Why? Because there’s nothing to force it down.
If Toshiba really wants to get back into the game, they should just give away players. Seriously. The more consumers that have a player, the more chances you will have for media to take hold. Remember when Microsoft took a loss for every Xbox that came out to get it into the hands of players? Same thing. And there’s still the advantage of all of the movies and television shows that are already out there on HD-DVD already.
A lot of people are blowing the horn on the HD-DVD. And while I think that there’s a glimmer of hope, I don’t believe corporate Toshiba would take such a risk unless a lot of capital has already been sunk into pushing this format and there was no other choice. Don’t get me wrong either. I’ll definitely be getting Blu-ray at some point. But having both will only give me a stronger selection in the long run as a consumer. But also looking after the needs of a consumer, I find that Toshiba just rolling over would be a bad move for all of us.
Fat lady might be humming some scales, but she hasn’t sung yet.
Photo Credit: (ern)

  • Tom Lyford

    OK, So I’ve read your blog for a year plus and I have to give you my two cents on this….
    I have an A20 and I love it, but I don’t think that Toshiba giving away players is going to help this situation at all. The problem is the lack of product for the players. Forcing Disney and the other BR only studios to produce product for both players (same for Universal and Dreamworks on the HD DVD side) would then allow the public to make the choice of what player technology to use. But none of these companies are in it for the consumer, they are in it for themselves.
    Why would these corporations want a product that was “consumer friendly” like HD DVD (no region coding and a finalized spec.) when you can produce a product that you can still limit where in the world it is seen or possibly force the purchase of a new player when the specifications change?
    At this point, all of those people who bought a player or received a player at Christmas are looking at what is available on the blue side of the shelf and are probably a little ticked off that they can’t watch any Disney movies in HD, but I can watch Shrek 3 for the 100th time…..
    Toshiba rolling over would be a bad move, yes… But without the content, they are just making great upconverting DVD players….

  • Tom Lyford

    OK, So I’ve read your blog for a year plus and I have to give you my two cents on this….
    I have an A20 and I love it, but I don’t think that Toshiba giving away players is going to help this situation at all. The problem is the lack of product for the players. Forcing Disney and the other BR only studios to produce product for both players (same for Universal and Dreamworks on the HD DVD side) would then allow the public to make the choice of what player technology to use. But none of these companies are in it for the consumer, they are in it for themselves.
    Why would these corporations want a product that was “consumer friendly” like HD DVD (no region coding and a finalized spec.) when you can produce a product that you can still limit where in the world it is seen or possibly force the purchase of a new player when the specifications change?
    At this point, all of those people who bought a player or received a player at Christmas are looking at what is available on the blue side of the shelf and are probably a little ticked off that they can’t watch any Disney movies in HD, but I can watch Shrek 3 for the 100th time…..
    Toshiba rolling over would be a bad move, yes… But without the content, they are just making great upconverting DVD players….

  • I agree with content issue. Our household got an A-30 right after Christmas. Needless to say, it’s annoying when I know it’s region free, but I’m not definite about the upconverting DVD portion of it (haven’t tested to see if that is region free yet).
    Sucks when you watch multiple region DVDs (Asian in my case).
    I have enough movies and DVDs to make it a worthwhile upconverted DVD player, but it does annoy me that Toshiba isn’t chasing after the content more vigorously.
    Truthfully, I’ve always been a Sony supporter (from betamax, UMD, MD, etc) but there will be nothing to push or help pricing for the consumer, and nor will anything on shelf current support Blu-Ray 2.0 profiles. That just stinks if you ask me.
    Content wise, maybe going after television shows and perhaps there are other alternative industries. Either way, I think that it’s foolish to roll over. That hurts their brand in a large manner.

  • darkmoon

    I agree with content issue. Our household got an A-30 right after Christmas. Needless to say, it’s annoying when I know it’s region free, but I’m not definite about the upconverting DVD portion of it (haven’t tested to see if that is region free yet).
    Sucks when you watch multiple region DVDs (Asian in my case).
    I have enough movies and DVDs to make it a worthwhile upconverted DVD player, but it does annoy me that Toshiba isn’t chasing after the content more vigorously.
    Truthfully, I’ve always been a Sony supporter (from betamax, UMD, MD, etc) but there will be nothing to push or help pricing for the consumer, and nor will anything on shelf current support Blu-Ray 2.0 profiles. That just stinks if you ask me.
    Content wise, maybe going after television shows and perhaps there are other alternative industries. Either way, I think that it’s foolish to roll over. That hurts their brand in a large manner.

  • Tom Lyford

    I agree with you. Toshiba is going to have a hard time fighting back. Sony has one thing in this “war” that Toshiba doesn’t have. A built-in supply of movies to push onto their format.
    Sony owns basically four major studios (Columbia, TriStar, Screen Gems and Sony Pictures). Anything that appears in a theater or on TV from those four houses ends up blu-ray only. From what I’ve read in the past, Sony started to buy “content” after they lost the last round of format wars. Good move on thier part, I grudingly have to admit…..
    Also, the Toshiba players are region locked for SD movies and I don’t think there is a way to unlock it. I didn’t really have much use for that, but I did think it was cool that I’d be able to buy movies from the UK or AU and play them without issue (The IT Crowd from the UK, in HD, would be a blast to watch).
    Lastly, there are two of us here at work (in the IT dept. of course) that bought these players. We both love them, but we joke that one way Toshiba could “get back” at the blu-ray people is to say, “OK, we give up. But, instead of trashing the whole thing, we’re gonna open-source the code and let the users take it from here…”. With a little help from Toshiba, maybe there would be ways to watch BD movies on an HD player or maybe the ability to “make backup copies of BD movies” onto an HD DVD media. Silly, I know, but maybe pull out all of the stops to keep the format alive.

  • Tom Lyford

    I agree with you. Toshiba is going to have a hard time fighting back. Sony has one thing in this “war” that Toshiba doesn’t have. A built-in supply of movies to push onto their format.
    Sony owns basically four major studios (Columbia, TriStar, Screen Gems and Sony Pictures). Anything that appears in a theater or on TV from those four houses ends up blu-ray only. From what I’ve read in the past, Sony started to buy “content” after they lost the last round of format wars. Good move on thier part, I grudingly have to admit…..
    Also, the Toshiba players are region locked for SD movies and I don’t think there is a way to unlock it. I didn’t really have much use for that, but I did think it was cool that I’d be able to buy movies from the UK or AU and play them without issue (The IT Crowd from the UK, in HD, would be a blast to watch).
    Lastly, there are two of us here at work (in the IT dept. of course) that bought these players. We both love them, but we joke that one way Toshiba could “get back” at the blu-ray people is to say, “OK, we give up. But, instead of trashing the whole thing, we’re gonna open-source the code and let the users take it from here…”. With a little help from Toshiba, maybe there would be ways to watch BD movies on an HD player or maybe the ability to “make backup copies of BD movies” onto an HD DVD media. Silly, I know, but maybe pull out all of the stops to keep the format alive.

  • Very interesting idea. Open source the players? Hmm. That definitely would be pretty nice. That would not only keep some of the hardware sales still going, but the going rate of people creating indie media, would open the entire HD market to them.
    That would be interesting if Toshiba opened it up and gave it to the development community to play with. Toshiba still owns the rights and patents to it, and perhaps it would be a limited open license in a way (and not GPL persay since there’s too much proprietary things that they would have to give up), but I think it could work pretty well. Not too much different from Sun’s open hardware licensing.
    Maybe Toshiba should go woo ABC/NBC and a couple other of those. Or heck, the niche market of anime (not that I’ve seen any anime HD, but it’d be interesting to own all of Fullmetal Alchemist on 1-2 discs).
    Even on deathwatch, I think there’s many options to choose from to keep the format going. The one last hurrah. We’ll see if they do it though since I believe they’re supposedly an announcement this week or next from the looks of things.

  • darkmoon

    Very interesting idea. Open source the players? Hmm. That definitely would be pretty nice. That would not only keep some of the hardware sales still going, but the going rate of people creating indie media, would open the entire HD market to them.
    That would be interesting if Toshiba opened it up and gave it to the development community to play with. Toshiba still owns the rights and patents to it, and perhaps it would be a limited open license in a way (and not GPL persay since there’s too much proprietary things that they would have to give up), but I think it could work pretty well. Not too much different from Sun’s open hardware licensing.
    Maybe Toshiba should go woo ABC/NBC and a couple other of those. Or heck, the niche market of anime (not that I’ve seen any anime HD, but it’d be interesting to own all of Fullmetal Alchemist on 1-2 discs).
    Even on deathwatch, I think there’s many options to choose from to keep the format going. The one last hurrah. We’ll see if they do it though since I believe they’re supposedly an announcement this week or next from the looks of things.

  • Tom Lyford

    It WOULD be fun to see how “techie” type of people would spin this. How would this technology turn out if driven by the people who use it and not the people who make money out of it….
    This has been a fun little conversation. Who knows where this will all go, but it will go somewhere.
    Have a good one.

  • Tom Lyford

    It WOULD be fun to see how “techie” type of people would spin this. How would this technology turn out if driven by the people who use it and not the people who make money out of it….
    This has been a fun little conversation. Who knows where this will all go, but it will go somewhere.
    Have a good one.

  • Jim Caserta

    I think the difference is more a hardware than software one. The optics for Blu-ray are different than hd-dvd – blu-ray focuses to a finer point, allowing for smaller data dots – the discs are physically different too. Supporting two different hardware manufacturing lines would be hard, and I would imagine there’d be difficulty incorporating CD/red DVD/HDDVD/ & blu-ray.

  • Jim Caserta

    I think the difference is more a hardware than software one. The optics for Blu-ray are different than hd-dvd – blu-ray focuses to a finer point, allowing for smaller data dots – the discs are physically different too. Supporting two different hardware manufacturing lines would be hard, and I would imagine there’d be difficulty incorporating CD/red DVD/HDDVD/ & blu-ray.

  • Having HD-DVD drop out leaving only Blu-ray does not a monopoly create.
    What it does is it allows there to be a standard. With a standard now all the companies in the business of supplying these items to consumers can focus on making and selling more of a known commodity.
    Consumers can also be sure in their choice and certainly that will entice more of them to buy sooner rather than later.
    Thirdly, the competition of the two above items will drive prices down.

  • Having HD-DVD drop out leaving only Blu-ray does not a monopoly create.
    What it does is it allows there to be a standard. With a standard now all the companies in the business of supplying these items to consumers can focus on making and selling more of a known commodity.
    Consumers can also be sure in their choice and certainly that will entice more of them to buy sooner rather than later.
    Thirdly, the competition of the two above items will drive prices down.