Toshiba to Join Blu-ray Disc Association

Toshiba announces its intent to produce Blu-ray discs after losing the high-definition DVD format war to Sony.

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 a company statement. Toshiba announced the company has applied for membership of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) and plans to introduce products that support the Blu-ray format.

"In light of 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," the statement read. "Toshiba aims to introduce digital products that support the Blu-ray format, including BD players and notebook PCs integrating BD drives, in the course of this year. Details of the products, including the timing of regional launches, are now under consideration. We will make announcements in due course."

Toshiba declared on February 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.