By PETER SVENSSON AP Technology Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- In an apparent tactical retreat in the high-stakes battle for the next generation of video discs, Toshiba Corp. has delayed the U.S. launch of the first players supporting its HD DVD format.
Instead of being available late this year, the players will launch next year, probably in the first quarter, said Toshiba spokeswoman Jodi Sally.
That brings the launch of the HD DVD closer to the expected U.S. debut of its main competitor, the Blu-ray disc, which is backed by Sony Corp.
Sony's next-generation videogame console, the PlayStation 3, is expected next spring and will read Blu-ray discs.
The HD DVD delay is due to marketing considerations, not manufacturing problems, Sally said. The consortium behind the disc wants to avoid repeating 1997's slow launch of the DVD, for which only a few titles were initially available.
Studios and manufacturers also want more time to develop interactive features like games, extra audio tracks and Internet tie-ins.