In Japan it's all about face, getting it, maintaining it and keeping it, so it's something of a surprise to report that, in one of the biggest about-faces in corporate history, Toshiba has swallowed its pride, accepted commercial reality and has announced it is to start manufacturing DVD players and other devices that will play play Blu-ray discs, reports Martyn Warwick.
Toshiba went head-to-head with Sony in the battle of the high-definition formats but its HD-DVD offering, although technologically superior to Blu-ray, and capable of holding much more data, finally lost out to the Sony-backed standard for the same reason that the earlier video tape formats Video 2000 and Betamax capitulated to VHS - the greater availability of software.
In other words, there has always been more movies and other content available on Blu-ray than there on HD-DVD. Furthermore, the quantity of content made available on Blu-ray attracted more consumers because Hollywood's Big Four studios backed the Sony format rather than Toshiba's.
Having a Blu-ray player built-in to the Playstation 3 also helped Sony to win the format wars.
Now, after retiring hurt a year and more ago, Toshiba has accepted commercial reality and returned to the fray, announcing that it is starting to make both standalone Blu-ray players as and HD drives for PCs and laptops. The first such products will be in the stores in time for this Christmas.
Toshiba is also to take up membership of Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) - the industry body that oversees the ongoing development of the format.
In a statement, the like of which would have been unthinkable only 12 months ago, Toshiba says, "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".
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