TOKYO – Toshiba may pull the plug on its high-definition DVD format but no decision has been made, the Japanese electronics maker said in a statement Monday.
Toshiba Corp. has started a review of its HD DVD business, it said, amid reports by the Wall Street Journal and Kyodo News agency that Toshiba was considering pulling out after losing ground to the competing Blu-ray disc format.
The Journal, citing people familiar with the situation, reported Sunday that the company is likely to pull out early this week.
A Toshiba pullout would signal the almost certain defeat of HD DVD to Blu-ray, which is backed by Sony Corp., five major Hollywood movie studios and others.
Only one format has been expected to emerge as the winner, much like VHS trumped Sony's Betamax in the video format battle of the 1980s.
Recently the Blu-ray disc format has been gaining market share, while Toshiba has been forced to slash prices to sell its HD DVD machines.
On Friday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest U.S. retailer, said it will sell only Blu-ray DVDs and hardware and no longer carry HD DVD offerings.
The announcement came five days after Netflix Inc. said it will cease carrying rentals in HD DVD. Several major U.S. retailers have made similar decisions, including Target Corp. and Blockbuster Inc.
Last month, Warner Bros. Entertainment decided to release movie discs only in the Blu-ray format, becoming the latest studio to reject HD DVD.
Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner Inc., had been the only remaining Hollywood studio releasing high-definition DVDs in both formats.
Should Toshiba exit the business, companies supporting its HD DVD format — including General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures — would be released from their contracts, the Journal reported.
Both formats deliver crisp, clear high-definition pictures and sound, but they are incompatible with each other, and neither plays on older DVD players.
HD DVD was touted as being cheaper because it was more similar to previous video technology, while Blu-ray boasted bigger recording capacity than HD DVD.