The true mark of Blu-ray's success, a Toshiba player

Toshiba may finally be surrendering to the power of Blu-ray, if anonymous sources to Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun are to be believed.

The paper says that Toshiba will release its own Blu-ray player by the end of 2009, a move that would be the clearest call of Blu-ray's success since Toshiba ceased HD DVD production early last year, and ended the long high definition format war.

Toshiba remains one of the only major consumer electronics manufacturers not to have joined the Blu-ray Disc Association. When Blu-ray took the dominant market position and Toshiba retired HD DVD, the company announced that it had no plans to manufacture Blu-ray players. Instead, Toshiba briefly took a swipe at pushing top-tier upconverting DVD players.

One year later, Toshiba's marketing push for XDE upconverting DVD players has dwindled, manufacturing costs for Blu-ray players have dropped, and the market is still forecasting tremendous growth. It is still an opportune time for Toshiba to produce its first Blu-ray player and fill out its lineup of home theater solutions.

The timeframe noted in the article suggests that a Toshiba Blu-ray product could enter the market during the holiday shopping season, which is expected to deliver a substantial boom in Blu-ray adoption.

During last year's holiday season, standalone Blu-ray players fell in price by around 15%, and there was a corresponding uptick in consumer adoption. Futuresource Consulting predicts that there will be another drop in price this year, but it will be even greater, knocking 25% off of existing prices.

A Harris Interactive poll released last June (.pdf here) showed that 43% of those surveyed said they were waiting for Blu-ray prices to come down before they purchased their first player.

With store-brand Blu-ray players now hitting the magic $99 price point for the first time, and many brand name players falling below $200, Toshiba could be entering a market primed for a Blu-ray explosion, provided it delivers a product at an appropriate price.

Statements from Toshiba and the Blu-ray Disc Association are pending.

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