Live @ Toshiba HD-DVD Press Conference

Live from Sydney, Australia.

Published Tue, Feb 19 2008 4:53 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 12:38 PM CST
10:52 - Still waiting out in the lobby outside the board room. The door is closed. They aren't ready for us yet.
Still waiting on confirmation that I will be interviewing someone from Toshiba, post conference.
So very, very tired. That McDonalds was good though.

10:56 - A small throng of media is starting to assemble. One refers to it as 'the wake'.

11:00 - Finally let in.

11:02 Toshiba general manager Mark Whittard takes the stage.

11:03 - First slide. A compilation of newspaper clippings showing death of HD-DVD.

11:04 - Mark starts explaining, reiterating the press release. Exit the market in March. Will service customers. Decision followed recent market changes. Redirecting resources to other product.

11:06 - Whittard explains the 3 core reasons for dissolution: 1) The Warner Bros factor, 2) Price advantage didnt obtain enough market share, 3) Major retailers left.

11:12 - Whittard claims DVD upscaling gets 'near HD quality', depending on source. Uh oh.

11:14 - Projected life span was short due to digital convergence.

11:15 - Toshiba believes dissolution is the best thing for the market and for Toshiba.

11:16 - Unification with BD was not done because DVD forum officially sanctioned HD-DVD.

11:17 - Whittard claims BD was developed behind closed doors. Thought all the studios were on board with HD-DVD. Toshiba is still very disappointed with Warner.

11:18 - As for claims to why no other major manufacturers came on board with HD-DVD, they were welcome to - they are all in the DVD consortium.

11:19 - Toshiba firmly believed HD-DVD was the way forward. Cites Blu-ray as being behind HD-DVD with profile 2.0 - they are still catching up.

11:20 - History of formats starting with VHS VS Betacam up to DVD trouncing VHS in sales in 2003.

11:23 - Believes that in 2009, technology will leapfrog Blu-ray. He is talking about downloadable content.

11:24 - A slide of HD-DVD milestones - Up until January, things were looking 'reasonably good' for HD-DVD.

11:25 - Consumers - Toshiba will still beoffering full service, warranty, hotline etc, will continue to offer firmware upgrades.
Will handle spare parts for minimum of 5 years.

11:26 - Only a few thousand have sold. Doesnt have an accurate number handy.

11:27 - Possible to stream HD movies to players in the future.

11:28 - Whittard called retailers last night. Will work with them to manage consumers (refers to customers that bought players recently).

11:29 - Reference that the share price has gone up.

11:30 - Financial implications are not known yet. Toshiba will announced future plans 'soon'.

11:31 - Summary slide. Its game over. Reducing shipments. Decision has yet been made on HDVD PC drives because they are super multi drives. Retailers are positive about the future. Reiterates digital content downloading is coming fast. Faster than previously thought.

11:33 - Q and A session starts. First question is why are players still being shipped? Because there are 1000 movies out there and there is still value in the product. Points to being an HD upscaler as well.

11:34 - No intent to take back product from retailers. Next question is about content delivery in Australia. Its a good one. Our infrastructure sucks. Whittard replies that Telstra is improvng their bandwidth.

11:36 - Still answering question regarding bandwidth. Whittard says NANDflash tech is improving - you could go to a kiosk and potentially download a movie.

11:38 - Format war was short. Does Toshiba see a responsibility to offer a sweetener to current customers? The answer is not really. Inherent risk in being an early adopter.

11:40 - What role did local retailers play? Initially through premium retailers were offered product (Myer, Peeters etc), this then filtered down to places like JB Hi-fi and Domayne. Whittard makes mention on 'convincing' JB to become a dealer.

11:42 - I ask why more wasnt done to train local retailers on the benefits of HD-DVD. Whittard says that staff were trained, but personal bias of sales people must have come into it.

11:44 - Toshiba has no plans to produce a Blu-ray drive, but 'never say never'.

11:46 - No plans to drop HD-DVD pricing even further.

11:47 - How will this affect Toshiba's name? Doesn't believe there will be significant effects. Points to share price going up.

11:48 - No change to local staff. Staff will be re-directed.

11:49 - No more questions. Only allowed one each. So thats a wrap.

Now to see if i can get that interview.

Ben joined the TweakTown team in 2008 and has since reviewed 100s of movies. Ben is based in Australia and has been writing entertainment based news and reviews since 2002 and for TweakTown since 2007. A student of film, Ben brings a wide understanding of the medium to the latest happenings in entertainment circles and the latest blockbuster theatrical reviews.

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