Toshiba to Begin Production of Blu-ray Players, Report Says

After swallowing the bitter pill of defeat in the protracted high-definition DVD format war with Sony, Toshiba may be preparing to launch its own Blu-ray player, a Japanese newspaper reports.

Technology company Toshiba, which lost a protracted high-definition DVD format war with rival Sony (Toshiba backed HD DVD technology, but Sony's Blu-ray player prevailed) is getting ready to produce Blu-ray players of its own, according to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri. The newspaper didn't cite any sources, although the paper also reported that Toshiba is also planning to product Blu-ray DVD recording devices later on.

Toshiba declared on Feb. 19 that it would no longer manufacture or market HD DVD players. Support for the format had been steadily eroding as major film studios like Warner Bros. announced that they had chosen the Blu-ray format, developed by Sony, Panasonic, Philips and others, to release their films in high definition.

Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida announced at the time, "We concluded that a swift decision would be best [and] if we had continued, that would have created problems for consumers, and we simply had no chance to win."

However, Toshiba continued to supply retailers with machines until the end of March 2008, and the company then continued to provide technical support to the estimated 1 million people worldwide who owned HD DVD players and recorders. While the suggestion that Toshiba would cross over to its former competitor's side and support a format it once fought against may sound strange, hard media formats are facing competition from rapidly proliferating digital download options from companies like Netflix and cable operators such as Comcast.

Comcast announced on July 13 a partnership with Time Warner television programming subsidiaries Home Box Office and Cinemax, two subscription cable channels, to offer content online for the first time. At launch, the HBO and Cinemax broadband services on Comcast's On Demand Online will include popular films and television series.

On July 9, online movie rental service Netflix announced a partnership with Sony Electronics that will enable Netflix subscribers to instantly watch movies streamed from the rental site on Sony's Bravia Internet video-capable high-definition televisions and on previous Bravia models compatible with Sony's Bravia Internet video link module.

Netflix said beginning in fall 2009, members on an unlimited plan will be able use Sony Bravia Internet video-capable HD TVs to watch the more than 12,000 movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix. Sony is the latest consumer electronics company to partner with Netflix, after Microsoft (with the video game console Xbox 360), LG Electronics, Roku, Samsung, Tivo and Vizio.