EXCLUSIVE: Toshiba has thrown a hand grenade into the Blu-ray, HD DVD battle by slashing the price of HD DVD players to sub $500. The move comes as the market for high definition HD players enters a new content era with Sony claiming that it and Blu-ray will be the only survivors when the war is over.
At a press briefing in Sydney and shortly before the Toshiba announcement, the Managing Director of Sony Pictures Michele Garra claimed that the key price point would drive sales of Blu ray and HD DVD players
Sony claims that 84,000 PS3 consoles have been sold in Australia since it launched earlier this year. Now the company believes that because of the console pricing at $699.95, Sony will move an additional 84,000 units within the next three months.
In a major shot across Sony’s bows, Toshiba has exclusively revealed to SmartHouse that its entry level HD DVD player has been reduced from $899 to $499 and will include three HD DVD movies.
The EP10, 1080p model has been slashed from $1,099 to $699 and the high end 1080p HD-XE1-K-TY model has been slashed from $1,599 to $1,299.
Toshiba Australia General Manager Mark Whittard said, “The market is getting competitive and the change in our pricing allows us to deliver a sub $500 HD DVD player. This delivers great value for consumers and it was not until DVD players hit sub $500 that the market took off. We are confident that with this new pricing we will see a big uplift in sales running into the peak buying period.”
Michele Garra said, “We are confident that Sony and Blu-ray will win this war. We have the lowest priced player and more content and it is content that will drive the market not players”.
While Sony claims it will be the winner of the HD war, earlier this week Toshiba and Microsoft, which also supports the Toshiba HD DVD platform, announced that they will jointly establish the Advanced Interactivity Consortium (AIC), an organisation aimed at spreading interactive operation capabilities for AV equipments. The companies aim to start the consortium by the end of 2007.
The companies will form the AIC for two purposes. One is to test and provide support related to the interoperability of “HDi” interactive capabilities for HD DVD. The other is to spread HDi not only to HD DVD players but also to other AV equipment including PCs, TVs, mobile phones, portable music players and game consoles.
Expected applications include video content downloads via Internet-accessible because it allows them to easily extend services they have developed for HD DVD to other AV equipments.
Along with Toshiba and Microsoft, major U.S. movie studios, including DreamWorks Animation SKG, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Warner Bros., participate in the consortium.