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Panasonic Blu-ray player set for September launch in US

Panasonic, a subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial, said it will start selling a Blu-ray high-definition disc player in September for under $1,500 and sees up to 5 million of these new DVD players sold industry-wide in their first year.

"We think adoption will be strong, based on broad support. For the first 12 months, we expect 4 million to 5 million units to be sold beginning in May and across all platforms, including standalones, computers and gaming systems," said Reid Sullivan, vice president merchandising, Panasonic's entertainment group.

Sullivan said Panasonic sees no need to develop a player to support both Blu-ray and HD DVD, despite the competition between the two standards and a recent move to make a dual player for both formats by LG Electronics Inc. "Unfortunately, there is some confusion between the two formats but based on the wide support for Blu-ray in the industry, we expect the (growth) curve to be quite steep. We recognize that its best to have one format," said Sullivan.

The arrival of Panasonic's Blu-ray player will coincide around the debut of its new 103-inch flat screen TV, estimated to cost around $10,000. "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 Corp. Pioneer Corp.and Sony Corp. as well as players supporting rival HD DVD, championed by Toshiba Corp.

Story filed 05.04.06

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