Toshiba USA admits to selling just 60,000 HD DVD players

By James Wells in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS: Toshiba America admitted it has sold just 60,000 HD DVD players since launch, which is 16 times less than the Blu-ray Disc (BD) units sold to the US market by Sony, who has also confirmed that one million PlayStation3 consoles, which incorporate a Blu-ray drive, were shipped to the US market in the last six weeks of 2006.

Various conflicting statistics have been used to prop up the HD DVD format over the last 12 months which include sell-in and sell through data that may or may not be restricted to US sales.

A senior director of Toshiba, Paul Castellana, has been quoted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in an online article by IDG, that total HD DVD shipments during 2006 totalled 370,000 units.

However, at its CES press conference on Sunday, Toshiba America vice president of marketing, Jodi Sally, said that just 60,000 HD DVD players had been sold. Sally did not clarify whether the number represented sell-in or sell-through data for the US market.

Toshiba Corporate Senior Vice President, Yoshihide Fujii, told Reuters following the press conference on Sunday that the sales figures were very different.

According to the Reuters report, in the current Japanese financial year ending 31 March, and after a full 12 months of sales, Toshiba expects sales of its high definition optical disc players and recorders to be “a little less than 500,000”. Fujii did not clarify what proportion of these units were PCs with HD DVD drives.

In March 2006, Reuters claimed Toshiba aimed to sell about 600,000 to 700,000 players in the 12-month period ending 31 March 2007.

When asked about his expectations for the next Japanese financial year which starts on April Fool’s Day, Fujii told Reuters: “I’m sure we will be hitting three million in global sales. Of that, 2.3 to 2.4 million units will likely be sold in the United States. We are compiling a business plan that calls for a small profit [in the 07-08 Japanese financial year]. That’s unless the Blu-ray camp offers a $100 machine.”

HD DVD supporters, including Toshiba, have reportedly released sales forecast data that projects movie title sales will exceed $US600 million in North America in the 2007 calendar year.

The HD DVD format was dealt another blow on Sunday when RCA said it will discontinue manufacturing HD DVD players and will rule out supporting either next generation format until the uncertainty in the market disappears.

At the CES this year, Toshiba announced it will release a mid-market HD DVD player, the HD-A20, which will be sold for $US599 and offer 1080p output. It will be positioned between the entry level HD-A2 ($US499) with 1080i output and the premium model HD-XA2 (RRP $US999).

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