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What does HD DVD's defeat mean for the future?

The next-generation HD DVD format failed partly because of a lack of interest and external competition from digital downloads, according to Toshiba Australia, but what does it mean for the future of HD?

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Only 2000 HD DVD players have been sold in Australia

The next-generation HD DVD format failed partly because of a lack of interest and external competition from digital downloads, according to Toshiba Australia, but what does it mean for the future of HD?

Mark Whittard, general manager of Toshiba Australia said the penetration of both HD DVD and Blu-ray was way below expectations, and that the withdrawal of Warner Brothers from Toshiba's camp lead the company to cut its losses.

"We believe it's the right decision. It's the most responsible decision for consumers, retailers and for the company," said Whittard.

He reiterated the Japanese head office's statement that Toshiba would continue to be committed to products such as the Cell processor, NAND flash memory and other HD-enabling technologies.

Whittard emphasised that even though he expected sales of HD DVD players to end in April, there was nothing wrong with the equipment and it could still be used to upscale standard DVDs. The players also have the potential to offer digital downloads in the future.

Though Whittard was unable to guarantee this feature would be available on existing HD DVD players, he said he players "are capable (of playing them) … and this was demonstrated at CES".

According to market analysts GfK, only 2,000 HD DVD players have been sold in Australia, compared to 7,000 standalone Sony players and a massive 188,000 Sony PlayStation 3 consoles.

Whittard said customers who have purchased a HD DVD player will continue to receive support from Toshiba for up to five years, but that the ongoing release of movies "was up to the studios".

Gfk's Simon Perks said while digital downloads will have an affect on Blu-ray it won't be immediate: "It will affect sales in the longterm and not the short term -- the next three to five years. The technology to make it efficient or easy for customers is still a long way off."

He said that despite Toshiba's expectations, sales of HD disks are higher now than at the same point for DVD. Following the same model, sales of Blu-ray are expected to increase tenfold by the end of 2010 -- or 35,000 units a week. At its peak, Blu-ray sold 10,500 in the week leading up to Christmas 2007 -- up from 3,000 to 4,000 -- Gfk figures suggest.

At present, Blu-ray only accounts for 0.05 per cent of software sales, and Perks says it may take another year for the disks to make a dent on DVD sales.

Have you bought HD DVD recently? How does this decision affect you? Let us know your thoughts below.