Today's Wall Street Journal has an interview with Atsutoshi Nishida, Toshiba's chief executive, that's kind of interesting for what it doesn't say. The article's headline is "Toshiba's Plan for Life After HD DVD" and the Q&A appears in the "Boss Talk" column, which seems to put executives in a warm seat rather than a hot seat. By that I mean there are a couple of hard-hitting questions ("Isn't the loss of the format war a blow to Toshiba's strategy?), but after you're through with the piece, you get the feeling that the interviewer, Yukari Iwatani Kane, really let Mr. Nishida off the hook.
Personally, I don't really care how Mr. Nishida spends his free time, but I am kind of curious what his thought process was when he decided to go to war with Sony. If you remember, over a year ago there was actually a moment when Toshiba and Sony were in negotiations to settle, but in the end they just couldn't come to an agreement on a unified format. I would have asked Mr. Nishida whether he regrets not making a deal earlier--and why he thought he could win in the first place. I also would have inquired what his plans were for a standalone Toshiba Blu-ray player. I mean, if you're going to ask him what Toshiba's plans are for life after HD DVD, you've got to ask if a Blu-ray player is in the works--especially a BD-Rom drive for Toshiba's laptops. Make him answer the question, right?
Well, without having the question asked, Mr. Nishida did answer in so many words that no Blu-ray player was imminent. He basically said that Toshiba would combat Blu-ray by selling upconverting DVD players that would cost less than Blu-ray players and be just as good. The exact quote: "And we're going to improve this [upconverting feature] even more, so that consumers won't be able to tell the difference from HD DVD images." That so? Well, what was the point of the war in the first place then? Jeez, Louise.
Anyway, I don't expect to see a Toshiba Blu-ray player in 2008, but Toshiba may change its tune in 2009. What do you guys think? Can Sony and Blu-ray be beat by cheaper upconverting players? Is DVD still the future?