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Crazy or crazy smart? Toshiba boss bets house on standard DVD

Anyone familiar with the conservative nature of big Japanese business will tell you that Toshiba’s decision to drop HD DVD like a hot brick was almost unseemly in its haste, even though the firm had little choice.

Instead of slowly running down production and sales, Toshiba CEO Atsutoshi Nishida went straight for the jugular last month and put the whimpering format out of its misery, but what’s next for the hard-man boss after such a high-profile failure?

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Nishida explained that Toshiba will switch focus to standard DVD players and even suggested that Blu-ray will struggle.

He said: “What people don’t realize is that Hollywood studios are going to release new titles not just for Blu-ray but for standard DVDs as well, and there are a far greater number of current-generation DVD players out there.”

That’s all very well, but isn’t the fact that DVD machines are as cheap as chips a bit of a problem? Apparently not: “If you watch standard DVDs on our players, the images are of very high quality because they include an upconverting feature. And we’re going to improve this even more, so that consumers won’t be able to tell the difference from HD DVD images.”

While Nishida clearly has nerves of steel, it’s hard to see many people who want to watch high-quality video not actually buying a high-definition machine. It just doesn’t make sense.

Although he’s clearly banking on a price difference in favor of his players, it won’t be long before Blu-ray decks hit the price sweet-spot that made DVD a must-buy product a few years ago.

(Crossposted to TechRadar)

11:01 AM JMLH • Permalink
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