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Toshiba Says HD DVD "Has Not Lost" Despite Warner Move

Toshiba insisted on Sunday that its HD DVD high-definition video format is far from dead despite being dealt a major setback by Warner Bros studio's decision to exclusively back Sony's rival Blu-ray technology.

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Akiyo Ozaka, president of Toshiba America Consumer Products, told a briefing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that HD DVD "has not lost."

But Ozaka was at a loss to say what Toshiba planned to do next after the decision by Time Warner's Warner Bros, one of the world's largest film studios, to embrace Blu-ray, an optical disk format for storing high-definition video that is backed by Toshiba rival Sony.

Toshiba's defiant remarks were the latest salvo in a long-running battle over which format will dominate the next generation of technology for delivering high-definition movies to consumers.

The winner is expected to inherit a multibillion-dollar industry, although consumers so far have been confused by the standards war. Some analysts say that they have also failed to see the attraction of high-definition.

The rivalry has been compared to the video-cassette-recorder format war of the late 1970s and early 1980s which ultimately Sony's Betamax lost and JVC's VHS won.

Toshiba, the main backer of the HD DVD format, defended the technology on Sunday after the HD DVD consortium, a group of companies of which it is a part, canceled plans to hold its own press conference at the Las Vegas trade show, the industry's largest U.S. gathering.

"We were very disappointed with Warner Brothers' announcement," Ozaka said. "Sales of HD DVD were very good last year, especially in October to December."

Ozaka said Toshiba sold about 1 million HD DVD players in North America in the last year as more consumers downloaded high-definition video onto personal computers equipped with the technology.

The technology debuted broadly in the United States in 2006 but has not become a big hit with consumers yet.

Ozaka declined to comment on Toshiba's next steps, which he said Toshiba's HD DVD partners would have to discuss.

Toshiba marketing executive Jodi Sally told the audience that HD DVD remained the best technology, but acknowledged that the Warner Bros announcement on Friday took her by surprise.

"It's difficult for me to believe when all the pundits declare that HD DVD is dead," Sally said. "Clearly, the events of the last few days have led many of you to that conclusion. We have been declared dead before. The reality is we ended 2007 with a majority of the year-to-date market share."