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In a bid to push its HD DVD format, Toshiba would install appropriate optical drives into all of its notebooks, the company said at a press conference. The move will allow the company to increase penetration of HD DVD, but it is questionable whether with hybrid drives on the market and relatively low market share of Toshiba in the notebook universe it will catalyze a substantial success.

Toshiba’s senior vice president Hisatsugu Nonaka said that the company would integrate HD DVD optical drives into “all” of its laptops next year, as the demand towards high definition movie playback is strong.

“The demand is there: people want to watch their favorite movies in high-definition on the road,” Mr. Nonaka is reported to have said according to Reuters news-agency.

According to Gartner market researcher, Toshiba commanded 4.1% of the global PC market in Q1 2007, up 0.3 points year-over-year and increasing its shipments by 15.3% annually. The total available market of personal computers (which includes desktop PCs, mobile PCs and x86 servers) was approximately 62.719 million, which means that Toshiba supplied about 2.57 million of computers in Q1 2007.

Even though 2.57 million of notebooks may seem a huge number and, considering that HD DVD supporters like Acer and HP, the world’s third (6.8% with 4.26 million systems shipped in Q1) and first (17.6% with 11 million machines supplied) makers of computers, have much larger market shares and have not announced support of HD DVD for all of their systems next year, Toshiba’s quarterly notebook shipments may not be enough to outpace those of the most successful Blu-ray disc player: Sony PlayStation 3.

Nevertheless, HP actually plans to install dual-format Blu-ray/HD DVD optical drives into its systems, while Acer will inevitably boost the share of notebooks with HD DVD among its products too, therefore, the format will still have substantial support in the PC universe, as the only computer maker who supports only Blu-ray among the Top 5 makers is Dell (13.9% market share, shipped 8.7 million of systems in Q1 2007).

Given that HD DVD drives are more expensive compared to typical DVD/CD devices, installing them into all systems may increase prices and eventually decrease their market share.

Blu-ray disc fiercely competes with HD DVD format to replace conventional DVD in future. While Blu-ray offers larger storage space for content, HD DVD drives and discs are easier and cheaper to produce. Due to widespread confusion among customers which format to choose, different manufacturers offer different kinds of solutions: LG and Samsung offer hybrid BD/HD DVD players and optical drives, whereas companies like Sony and Toshiba offer more affordable Blu-ray-only and HD DVD-only players.

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