Toshiba 'cut prices to clear HD DVD stocks'

Toshiba 'cut prices to clear HD DVD stocks'

Analyst says move shows pull-out imminent – but will buyers have a claim?

Toshiba cut prices on its HD DVD players to reduce stocks rather than win market share from rival Blu-ray technology, according to a leading market watcher.

The cuts were a signal that the company could announce its withdrawal from HD DVD soon, said Paul O'Donovan, principal analyst with Gartner.

Gartner declined to comment on whether Toshiba might be opening itself to lawsuits from people who bought the cut-price players on the understanding of continuing support for HD DVD.

Toshiba shares have risen on rumours that it is to pull out of HD DVD, and O'Donovan said he expected it to do so within two weeks. "If it delays the stock will drop quickly.”

He did not believe the move would push up sales of Blu-ray in the short term. People with high-definition TVs might consider buying a Blu-ray player or a Sony Playstation 3 equipped with one but sales would probably not surge until the end of the year.

O'Donovan went on: “Gartner doesn’t see downloads having a big effect on the adoption of Blu-ray. The infrastructure isn't ready for massive HD video-file downloads yet."