OCT, 2005: In the high-stakes battle with Sony over whose format will power the next-generation of DVD players, Toshiba has adopted a potentially perilous strategy: encouraging low-cost Chinese competitors to crank out machines using its standard known as HD-DVD.
The tactic of courting Chinese makers has been largely taboo in Japan, where manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic have long tried to delay their technology from turning into cheap commodities. But Toshiba's decision could have significant ramifications in the race for the billions of dollars that will very likely flow from the next generation of DVD technology that promises sharper pictures, enhanced audio and more disc storage.
Sony and the Blu-ray group are licensing their technology more selectively. Analysts call this an effort to prevent low-cost manufacturers, including those from China, from quickly driving down the price of Blu-ray machines when they reach stores next year. Many manufacturers are also wary of licensing their technology to the Chinese because of their record of not paying licensing and royalty fees.
The contrasting strategies underscore the increasingly uncomfortable choices that Japanese electronics makers must make as China's manufacturing might grows, whether it be in DVDs, televisions, cameras or other products.
JAN. 7 | LAS VEGAS Chinese manufacturers, known for low-cost consumer products, will begin making and shipping HD DVD players for the U.S. market by the end of 2007, HD DVD promotional group execs announced at an event here Sunday evening. Chinese manufacturers Alco, Shinco and Lite-On will join Toshiba in making players, as will Japanese company Onkyo, execs announced. Microsoft may also make players, officials said, but didn't provide further details. Car system manufacturer Alpine is making a player for cars. The move is expected to add lower-priced players to the market, which could greatly expand household penetration for the format.
April 9, 2007 TOKYO, Japan (AP) Toshiba Corp. has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission and sued 17 companies, alleging infringement of its DVD patents, the Japanese electronics maker said Monday. The commission is an independent federal agency that checks on unfair trade practices and copyright infringements.
Toshiba filed a complaint Friday to the commission against the 17 companies, mostly Hong Kong and Chinese manufacturers and importers.
Also Friday, Toshiba filed a lawsuit demanding monetary damages to the same companies in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Toshiba spokeswoman Yuko Sugahara declined to comment on the damage amount.
Toshiba licenses DVD patents, but the companies, including Daewoo Electronics America Inc. of the U.S., Dongguan GVG Digital Technology of China and Star Light Electronics Co. of Hong Kong, don't have such licensing agreements, Toshiba said. Imported DVD products are sold without proper permission, the company said.
"The infringement of Toshiba's patents by these companies has damaged Toshiba's DVD-related business, and also caused damage to the legitimate and licensed DVD product manufacturing and distribution and business as a whole," Tokyo-based Toshiba said in a statement.
APRIL 20 | Wal-Mart apparently has ordered 2 million HD DVD players from China to sell at a target price of $299, according to a report out of Taiwan.
The introduction of low-priced Chinese-manufactured DVD players in Wal-Mart and other outlets in the U.S. helped spur the growth of the DVD format in its early years. A translation of the story was uploaded on the AVS Forum.
These news reports have been around for years now. So how is this any surprise to the BD supporters who keep threadcrapping here? It's obviously the HD-DVD format, and you will most likely hear additional companies such as Alco, Shinco and Lite-On (mentioned at CES) announcing lower-priced players for other major retailers as well (Target, Sears, K-Mart?). This was publicly announced at CES in January, so why the denial? Did BD folks think this was all simply BS?