The arrival of Panasonic's Blu-ray player will coincide around the debut of its new 103-inch flat screen TV, estimated by Panasonic to cost several times more than the $10,000 price of its 65-inch Plasma TV. Panasonic is a division of Panasonic Corp. of North America, the principal North American subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. "We're introducing technologies that will all tie in together to propel Blu-ray. The flat panel or plasma TV is the engine pulling the train," said Sullivan.
Panasonic's Blu-ray player will compete against other Blu-ray players from Samsung, Pioneer, and Sony as well as players supporting rival HD DVD, championed by Toshiba. The battle between the two formats has divided Hollywood and the computer industry and is being likened to the Betamax/VHS war of over 25 years ago, which led to customer confusion and widespread company losses.
While more Hollywood studios and electronics makers have sided with the Blu-ray camp, led by Sony, last fall Microsoft revived HD DVD when it said would support Toshiba's technology. Microsoft is expected to introduce an external HD DVD drive that will turn the Xbox 360 into a high-definition DVD player.
Sony's much-anticipated PlayStation 3 game console will support Blu-ray and is expected to boost the install base for that format, although Sony recently delayed the debut of PS3 until early November. Toshiba last week said it may delay the launch of its HD DVD player from March to mid-April. By offering discs with far more capacity than current DVDs, the groups hope to breath new life into the $24 billion home video market.