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in the dressing room Toshiba tried measures such as cutting the price of the HD-A3 player to $150 and running a $27 million Super Bowl ad But the bad news kept coming j New Line, HBO, and National Geographic Presents all followed in the footsteps of their parent Warner and announced they would phase out HD DVD j The BDA Promotions committee announced that roughly 35 million Blu-ray players had been sold to date in the US (three million PS3 consoles and 500,000 standalone players) Over 105 million PS3s had been sold worldwide This compared to roughly 850 thousand HD DVD players in the US and just over one million worldwide (300,000 PCs with HD DVD drives, 300,000 Xbox 360 drives, and 430,000 standalone players) j An Xbox group marketing manager said Microsoft would consider a Blu-ray add-on drive for the Xbox 360 Oops, hang on the next day Microsoft reaffirmed its belief that HD DVD was the best optical disc for consumers and that it had no plans to support Blu-ray Disc on the Xbox 360 j Nielsen VideoScan data showed that for the week ending January 13, all ten of the top ten high definition discs in the US home video sales and rental charts were Blu-ray discs j Analyst firm NPD said that for the week ending January 12, Blu-ray players outsold HD DVD players 9 to 1 HD DVD player sales sank from 14,558 two weeks before to a meager 1,758 Blu-ray sales jumped from 15,257 to 21,770 for a 93 percent share NPD analysts cautioned that one week of data did not a trend make14 j Sonic Solutions, the main provider of professional authoring tools for both HD DVD and Blu-ray formats announced that its Professional Products Group would focus on Blu-ray j Woolworths in the UK announced that beginning in March it would sell only Blu-ray discs j NetFlix announced it would phase out HD DVD discs by the end of the year (Blockbuster had decided in June the year before to stock only Blu-ray titles) j BestBuy stated it would focus on Blu-ray j Rumors that Circuit City would follow suit were dispelled when a representative stated that the company would remain platform agnostic A statement from the President of Philips Consumer Electronics that Target would go exclusively Bluray was unsubstantiated j Wal-Mart, the world s largest retailer, said it would phase out HD DVD products by June
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14In fact, the next week Blu-ray player sales were back at a 65 percent share Then at the end of April, NPD
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stated that Blu-ray player unit sales in the US had dropped 40 percent from January to February while HD DVD player unit sales dropped only 13 percent In the next period, from February to March, Blu-ray players saw a 2 percent increase while HD DVD entered its death spiral, dropping 65 percent Blu-ray proponents pointed out that the January to March period followed a very successful holiday season and sales were down partly because of low inventory
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There were a few glimmers of good news Universal stated that it had no plans to abandon HD DVD An online Save HD DVD petition garnered over 31,600 signatures by February 8, while the competing Let HD DVD Die petition had reached only 11,300 The fat lady was clearing her throat Rumors surfaced from The Hollywood Reporter and elsewhere that Toshiba was preparing to throw in the towel Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on February 18 that Toshiba was closing its HD DVD production factories The Nikkei Business Daily reported that Toshiba would announce tomorrow the discontinuation of HD DVD Sure enough, on February 19, 2008, Toshiba formally announced it would quickly phase out the production of HD DVD players and recorders by the end of March We concluded that a swift decision would be best, said Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida The fat lady had sung The format war was over, exactly six years after it stepped onto the public stage15 The dominos fell quickly after that, with Universal Studios announcing the same day that it would be releasing movies on the Blu-ray format, and Paramount making the same announcement two days later In March, Toshiba projected that it would lose $665 million ( 65 billion) at the upcoming end of its fiscal year, reflecting the discontinuation of the HD DVD business and the decline in sales prices of NAND flash memories Goldman Sachs had earlier said that pulling out of the HD DVD business would improve Toshiba s profitability by $370 to $460 million a year In retrospect, the competition between Blu-ray and HD DVD was beneficial, to a point It drove both groups to push harder for advanced features, sped the pace of development, and kept prices low However, it would have been much better had there been a reconciliation around the middle of 2005, when the prospect was still workable On March 25, 2008, Sony s PlayStation 3 became the first Profile 2 (BD-Live) player by virtue of a software upgrade On May 27 the first Blu-ray audio-only release, Divertimenti, performed by the Trondheim Solistene ensemble, was released in Norway by 2L Although there were as yet no Profile 3 (audio-only) players, the disc played on standard Blu-ray players but showed just how many of them were incapable of reproducing 192-kHz audio May 27 also marked the release of the last US HD DVDs from a major studio, PS I Love You and Twister from Warner Bros In June, the first standalone BD-Live player arrived, the Panasonic DMP-BD50 At a launch party on June 9 for Sleeping Beauty (which would not appear until four months later), Disney Studios president Bob Chapek said, Every subsequent Disney title will have BDLive Contrary to Disney s approach with DVD, which had been to hang back until the format was established, then cautiously ensure that every title played on as many players as possible, Disney was pushing the envelope with dozens of groundbreaking features It was a clever strategy that forced player makers to fix deficiencies in their players and prodded the
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15In one of those cosmic coincidences, Toshiba originally announced its next-generation technology in
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