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Toshiba slashes HD DVD hardware sales forecast

Promotion Group's numbers not so rosy either

Toshiba has taken an axe to its HD DVD player sales forecast, despite claims from the HD DVD Promotion Group (PG) that the company's "latest promotional efforts are clearly resonating with consumers and showing that price is king when it comes to hardware".

Toshiba yesterday said it new expects to sell 1m HD DVD devices in the US by the end of the year, Reuters reports. That's a drop of 44 per cent on the 1.8m the company previously forecast. Before, it said it would ship 3m HD DVD players and drives by the end of March 2008, and while it didn't provide a revised estimate for global sales, it admitted it was going to have to come up with a new, lower figure.

Contrast that with the HD DVD PG's bullish claim that its favoured format accounts for 60 per cent of all HD "set-top players" sold in the US to date. "With the successive price drops by Toshiba, weekly player sales doubled in April when the price dropped from $499 to $399, doubled again during the first week of the latest promotion in late May, and increased again last week," it said on Monday.

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To date, US consumers have bought 150,000 "dedicated" HD DVD players, the PG said, almost all of them sold by Toshiba, though it's unclear whether the group is including sales of Microsoft's HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 or not.

Probably not, because that might invite comparisons with PlayStation 3 sales which, limited though they are, are nonetheless driving adoption of the Blu-ray Disc format. Sony has sold a lot more than 150,000 PS3s in the US since the consoles late November 2006 introduction there.

And if 150,000 HD DVD players represents 60 per cent of HD player shipments, that means some 100,000 Blu-ray Disc players have also shipped in the US. Now since, HD DVD has been on the US market for over a year - Toshiba shipped its first player there in May 2006 after an April 2006 launch - and BD players have been available for less than that, HD DVD's 50,000-unit lead is not impressive, and certainly not a sign that it's winning the war.

And maybe the prognosis for the format is even less attractive, given Toshiba's new, significantly lower sales forecast, one that covers a period in which the company has already said it plans to equip more of its laptops with HD DVD drives.

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