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Sharp retail practices surround HD DVD downfall

After yesterday’s Toshiba HD DVD pullout there are still a few loose ends that need to be tied up, so we took to the streets of Tokyo to see how electronics retailers are handling the HD DVD wake in Toshiba’s hometown.

As expected, shops discounted all Toshiba’s next-gen machines first thing this morning – typical prices at stores like the Bic Camera electronics chain saw the Vardia RD-A300 going for ¥64,800 ($610), about $95 down from yesterday.

Get ‘em now!

More surprising, however, was what might be construed as a degree of duplicity. The photo of the A300 you can see above was taken in Tokyo this morning and shows a sign explaining that the shop is down to its last ten units at this “Now only!!” price. Now only indeed.

Other signs in shops proclaimed that the Toshiba HD DVD drives come hotly recommended – a full hand of five stars from the manager in one case – while HD DVD promotional pamphlets were still available. Onkyo’s HD DVD player was still on sale in spite of the firm also withdrawing from making it. All this without the slightest hint that the machines would be obsolete within weeks.

Lots of HD DVD movies

More disturbingly, of the various shop staff we spoke with only one admitted that it would be foolish to buy an HD DVD player now – the rest didn’t even bother to be cagey, even going so far as to claim there would be plenty of HD DVD movies coming out.

Away from the retail frontline, Toshiba has promised to ensure that blank HD DVD media are available to customers. On its HD DVD Q&A page (in Japanese) it says “Supplies of HD DVD-R disks can be expected to diminish from now on, but we will make every effort to avoid disruption to customers.”

Blu-ray rentals

Given that the companies currently supplying disks – Mitsubishi Chemical and Hitachi Maxell – have already said they’re not sure about continuing media production, Toshiba already faces an uphill struggle.

Lastly, the sudden clarity in the high-definition player market means Blu-ray is guaranteed the same boost VHS received from video libraries when Betamax bombed. Leading Japanese rental chain Tsutaya has already said it’s to begin renting out Blu-ray movies “as soon as possible.”

(Crossposted to TechRadar)

10:53 AM JMLH • Permalink
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