By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Toshiba claims that Sony’s victory in the high definition disc format war will be short lived due to the rise of HD digital video downloads over broadband, which the company claims was one of the key reason for abandoning HD DVD.

In a press conference this morning, Toshiba Australia general manager, Mark Whittard, said that while the US film and retail industries’ recent shift to support Blu-ray sealed HD DVD’s fate, other factors played a role in Toshiba’s abandonment of its high definition video disc business.

Whittard claims the penetration of both next generation disc formats is well below expectations while uptake of digital movie download services is accelerating, and could render HD discs redundant.

 “We believe technology developments will soon leapfrog high definition discs, whether it be HD DVD or Blu-ray,” he claimed.

“This step is going to be leapfrogged by the next major format – digital content, internet downloads and video on demand.”

Whittard also identified DVD as a formidable competitor to Blu-ray.

According to figures quoted by Toshiba, total sales of HD movie discs reached a paltry $300 million last year compared to sales of over $23 billion for DVD discs.

Whittard claims Blu-ray will find it difficult to replace DVD in the same way DVD comprehensively replaced VHS.

Toshiba sold less than one million HD DVD players worldwide, and while Blu-ray has achieved higher penetration with the PS3, Whittard claims DVD will be “extremely difficult” for Blu-ray to overcome.

“DVD players still sell in their tens of millions worldwide today,” he said.

“DVD upscaling technology means you get near high definition quality, and to most people there is little discernable difference.”

However, while Toshiba is now moving towards a business model which will see it place more emphasis on other HD video delivery platforms, it has not ruled out joining the Blu-ray camp.

“You never say never, but at this stage there are no plans,” he said.

Toshiba’s HD DVD players also have the potential for internet connectivity which gives them the potential to accept HD video streaming over ethernet connectivity, which could be utilised by the company in the future.