Toshiba May Delay HD-DVD Until 2006

Toshiba said Thursday it was considering pushing back the launch of its next-generation HD-DVD players until 2006 – losing its first-mover advantage and the holiday season sales rush. HD-DVD was expected to get a head start on rival format Blu-ray, which Sony is set to debut early next year.

The news follows an end to negotiations over a unified high-definition DVD format. Toshiba said it had ended the talks in order to begin work on meeting its self-imposed year-end deadline for shipping HD-DVD players. Now the company admits it is reconsidering its options.

“We are now in talks with Hollywood studios and large-scale retailers to seek the most effective timing of the launch and best way to launch,” a Toshiba spokesperson told Reuters. “We originally aimed for the year-end launch in the United States. But we have not really decided on that.” The format’s launch in Japan could also be delayed until next year, the spokesperson said.

The news could be seen as positive for the Blu-ray camp, which was faced with introducing its format months after HD-DVD had appeared on store shelves. But it’s still not clear if consumers will even be interested in the technology advancements high-definition DVD brings to the table.

The confusion between competing formats could also delay adoption, and Toshiba president Tadashi Okamura acknowledged, “We may actually have a situation where merchandise from both sides is put on store shelves. But the market would not allow that situation to last very long.”

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