Toshiba Set to Support Blu-Ray
A WSJ NEWS ROUNDUP - August 11, 2009
TOKYO -- Toshiba Corp., which lost out to rival Sony Corp. in the high-definition DVD standard format war, said it will make products that support the Blu-ray video disc format.
In a statement, the Japanese electronics maker said it aims to introduce Blu-ray disc players and laptops with built-in Blu-ray disc drives by the end of this year. It has also applied for membership in the Blu-ray Disc Association.
Details such as which markets the products would be sold in are now under consideration, it said.
"In light of the recent growth in digital devices supporting the Blu-ray format, combined with market demand from consumers and retailers alike, Toshiba has decided to join the BDA," it said.
Toshiba had backed another high-definition video format, HD-DVD, but ceded defeat in February last year, saying it would give up making or developing high-definition DVD products.
Some kind of decision from Toshiba had been expected ahead of the key year-end shopping season.
The Blu-ray alliance, backed by Japanese rivals Sony, Panasonic Corp. and others, had been more successful in wooing Hollywood studios.
Toshiba's move is reminiscent of Sony's strategy after its Betamax videotape standard lost to Panasonic's VHS in the 1980s. Sony ended up making VHS products.
The Blu-ray market could be too lucrative for Toshiba to pass up. The company racked up its biggest loss, 344 billion yen ($3.5 billion) in its latest fiscal year, which ended in March.
Apart from home entertainment products, Toshiba is also a large maker of PCs, in which Blu-ray drives are slowly supplanting DVD drives. Without Blu-ray drives, Toshiba laptops could have lost out to other manufacturers.