JB Hi-Fi back-flip on decision not to stock HD DVD in Toshiba deal

By Ian Neubauer

SYDNEY: JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Uechtritz explained to Current.com.au today the reason for his company’s decision to go back on an earlier commitment to stock only the Blu-ray format — they will now stock Toshiba HD DVD players and HD DVD films.

At the official Australian Blu-ray launch held in Sydney on 14 February this year, JB Hi-Fi marketing manager, Scott Browning, said that JB Hi-Fi “will not be stocking HD-DVD, we will only be stocking Blu-ray.”

JB Hi-Fi chief executive officer Richard Uechtritz said today the move was not a back flip but a studied response to changing industry trends.

“You make a decision one day and you change it the next as different information and facts come to life,” he said. “We feel there is a market for high definition and it’s as simple as that.”

Uechtritz said that while Blu-ray was still the market-leading format for DVD players in Australia, HD has taken the lead in Europe and the US.

“In our minds it is somewhat inevitable for the medium term that there will be two formats,” he said. “JB customers will want it and we rather they buy it from JB than elsewhere.”

Speaking for the HD DVD Consortium, Toshiba ISD general manager, Mark Whittard, said in a statement to the press that JB Hi-Fi’s move reflected increasing industry and market support for HD.

“The HD DVD Consortium believes Australians shouldn’t be restricted by a perceived ‘format war’ and instead be given access to the full gamut of HD films, players and hardware in all retail outlets,” he said.

“JB Hi-Fi’s decision to adopt HD DVD ensures customers emerge as the winners as their choice of hardware and software is broadened.”

JB Hi-Fi will be selling Toshiba’s HD-E1, HD-EP10 and HD-XE1 units with the range starting at RRP $499.

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