Toshiba Prepares To Ship Blu-ray Players - InformationWeek

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Toshiba Prepares To Ship Blu-ray Players

The consumer electronics maker said it will ship notebooks and media players with Blu-ray drives this year.

Toshiba, which lost the high-definition format war with the death of HD DVD, said Monday it plans to launch Blu-ray disc players this year, and has joined the industry group in charge of the Sony-backed format.

The consumer electronics maker conceded defeat in the format battle in February 2008 after Hollywood studios and Wal-Mart lined up in support of Blu-ray over HD DVD, which had also been backed by Microsoft. Sony-led Blu-ray supporters included Panasonic.

Toshiba said it had applied for membership in the Blu-ray Disc Association, which is responsible for the development and promotion of the high-definition format.

In addition, the company said it would introduce notebooks and media players with Blu-ray drives this year. "Details of the products, including the timeing of regional launches, are now under consideration," Toshiba said in a statement. "We will make announcements in due course."

Toshiba's Blu-ray plans are not surprising. The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported in July that the companywould introduce a Blu-rayplayer before the end of the year. As a major manufacturer of HDTVs, the company could no longer ignore the Blu-ray market, particularly as a growing number of consumers snap up players for televisions.

At one time, Toshiba had hoped to compete against Blu-ray with other technologies. For example, in August 2008 the company introduced player technology that enhanced the picture of standard DVD to near Blu-ray-level HD quality. Toshiba sold the technology, called extended detail enhancement, in its own players.

Nevertheless, nothing Toshiba developed could compete with Blu-ray players. In the first quarter of this year, unit sales soared 72% to 400,000 and the amount of money U.S. retailers reaped rose 14% from the same period a year ago to $107.2 million, according to the NPD Group. The biggest driver behind the increases was falling player prices and rising sales of HDTVs.

In Japan, Toshiba's home turf, Blu-ray in May accounted for more than 66% of all video recorders sold, according to market research firm BCN Inc.


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