Consumer electronics maker Toshiba Corp. said Monday that it was slashing prices of its HD DVD format players by 40% to 50% as major Hollywood studios move to embrace Sony Corp.'s Blu-ray format for high-definition DVDs.
Toshiba America Consumer Products said it cut prices of its HD DVD players effective Jan. 13 to boost market adoption of its next-generation DVD players by mainstream consumers after what it said was a successful fourth quarter in unit sales.
"While price is one of the consideration elements for the early adopter, it is a deal breaker for the mainstream consumer," Toshiba executive Yoshi Uchiyama said.
Toshiba's players will now start as low as $149, going up to $399 for the top-of-range player.
The company said it also was stepping up its marketing drive with major initiatives, including joint advertising campaigns with studios and extended pricing strategies. Toshiba said it would continue with ongoing promotions including five HD DVD titles for free with any of its HD DVD players.
The battle to dominate the next generation of DVD players appeared to have tipped in Sony's favor this month when the biggest Hollywood studio, Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc., said it would exclusively support Blu-ray discs. It had previously supported both next-generation formats.
Analysts saw Warner's move as an end to the next-generation DVD war that they say has confused consumers and delayed the development of a multibillion-dollar market.
So far, Toshiba has secured agreements with studios including Universal Home Video, Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG.
But Blu-ray has support from News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Co. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.