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Stalemate In Blu-ray Battle, Says ISuppli Analyst

Demand for blue lasers based on InGaN structures will rocket from near-zero to 65 million units over the next five years, but there will be a stalemate between Toshiba and Sony.

Market analysts at iSuppli say that the next-generation DVD sector will drive demand for GaN-based blue lasers to at least 65 million devices in 2010.

This year, they predict that the debut models from companies including Sony, Toshiba and Samsung to result in shipment of 1.6 million players and recorders, each one of which will require a blue laser.

But unlike some commentators, iSuppli senior analyst Chris Crotty says that there will not be a clear winner in the battle between the Blu-ray and high-definition DVD formats.

"This is not a repeat of VHS versus Beta," said Crotty, referring to the previous battle between consumer electronics giants. "The most likely outcome is stalemate, with the savvy manufacturers introducing dual-format players as early as the 2006 holiday season."In a tear-down analysis of Toshiba's new HD-DVD player, iSuppli estimated the bill of materials at $674, with the laser-containing optical drive unit accounting for $200 of that figure. Toshiba is clearly subsidizing the player in a bid to steal a march on its rivals, since it retails for just $499 in the US.

"There is a big question as to whether pricing its player so much lower than the Blu-ray is worth the financial risk," Crotty added.

iSuppli s figure does not include manufacturing and packaging costs, which may be pushed up by the high cost of the laser diodes that have resulted from poor wafer yields in the past.

Samsung and Philips are both launching Blu-ray players this month, while according reports in the Japanese press, Toshiba has ditched any remaining efforts to unify the Blu-ray and HD-DVD standards.

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