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Toshiba HD DVD Player in Midst of Price War

29 Oct, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Toshiba's HD-A2 HD DVD player

Forget Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when national retailers unveil deep discounts aimed at jumpstarting the holiday shopping season. Retail behemoth Wal-Mart didn't even wait for Halloween candy to go stale before reportedly announcing it will offer Toshiba's $300 HD-A2 HD DVD player for $198.

Wal-Mart ignited mass consumer frenzy for DVD in 2003 when it bowed a $40 player on Black Friday.

The HD-A2 offers 720p/1080i resolution, unlike Toshiba's third-generation players the HD-A30 ($399.99) and the HD-A35 ($499.99), which feature 1080p output.

Amazon and Circuit City responded by offering the HD-A2 for a penny less at $197.99. Through Sunday, the HD-A2 ranked in the top 25 among Amazon's most popular consumer electronics products.

Amazon offers the Samsung BD-P1400 for $389.00, Blu-ray's most inexpensive player on the market.

Toshiba spokesperson Jodi Sally said Kmart, which is owned by Sears, would exclusively stock Toshiba HD DVD players in retail stores due to their lower price.

A clerk at the retail chain's Anaheim location confirmed the store only carried Toshiba players.

He added that Kmart also carried Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console with Blu-ray drive in its gaming department.

Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures Digital Platforms, has identified establishing a sub-$200 price point as a key to mass consumer adoption of high-def packaged media.

Sally said the price cuts were retail-driven — not manufacturer-driven — and signaled an early start of a high-definition holiday shopping season.

“There was no official move on our MSRP, but I'm happy to see the strong sales momentum on our players,” Sally said. “We experienced a great lift in player sales when Transformers (Paramount) was released, and the strong momentum continues.”

The studio, which released titles in both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, now distributes exclusively in HD DVD.

Sally said third-party research indicated Toshiba's market share of next-generation, optical-disc players (including Blu-ray) has climbed to about 60%. She said the format also experienced a significant unit upturn with sales of HD DVD-enabled PC laptops.

She said HD DVD drives command a 70% worldwide market share of all PCs.

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