You might have heard about those $99 HD DVD players that were being sold for a moment at Wal-Mart and Best Buy. You're probably smart enough to realize that Toshiba isn't making much scratch on these things, but for reference, the first HD-A1 HD DVD player cost Toshiba $674 in parts alone (Says iSuppli, 2006). So are they losing ~$500 bucks on these newer player selling for less than a C-note?
Within a calendar year, I very much doubt that it could have been price-optimized more than 30% (*number pulled out of thin air). Either way, it's pretty clear that Toshiba is losing at least a few hundred dollars on this $99 deal for consumers, and maybe over $500 bucks including all costs. Is this sale desperation? Or have they moved on from the early-adopter battlefield and straight into the Waterloo of mainstream buyers? Maybe it's just a stunt, since most places sold out almost immediately. What better way to win the hearts and minds of cheap Americans than to hold an insane sale on a sliver of all of your inventory?
I have no evidence either way. This is an older model. Comments below bring up the point that the retailers could be clearing shelf space and moving inventory, sucking up the expense. Either way, no one knows but Toshiba, the retailers and no one is talking.
UPDATE: Toshiba, apparently, had nothing to do with this move. Walmart cut price to clear shelves and the retail competition followed, while Toshiba shrugged their shoulders.