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Taiwan makers desert China's hidef CBHD format

While several large Chinese consumer electronics makers and vendors plan to launch devices supporting the home grown China Blue High-definition Disc format (CBHD), no Taiwan-based makers of optical disc drives have participated in CBHD development or promotion, preferring to back BD hardware makers, reports DigiTimes.

Taiwan manufacturers are said not to be optimistic about the market potential of the domestic HD standard, despite support from China-based hardware players such as Shinco, TCL and Tsinghua Tongfang.

This is not China's first foray into developing optical disc technology. China also developed red-laser EVD (Enhanced Versatile Disc) technology, which was slated to compete against the DVD standard. EVD ultimately failed due to lack of market support, the sources pointed out.

For its part, Taiwan attempted to develop an alternative DVD format called FVD (Forward Versatile Disc), which reportedly was able to compete with Toshiba's HD DVD technology in terms of storage capacity. However, the standard failed to win over support from makers and customers alike.

Samsung Electronics and Sony are marketing $199 BD players in the North American market, while CBHD players will sell for about the sources pointed out. In addition to an unattractive price – reported to be about 3,000 yuan ($438) as compared with an entry price of $199 for BD players in the US – CBHD players offer little international content support, as compared to support from Hollywood movie studios for BD.

Taiwan-based companies prefer to bet all of their R&D resources on BD. Indeed DigiTimes indicates that Taiwanese consumer IC design houses, including MediaTek and Sunplus Technology, plan to cooperate with hardware makers in China to offer Blu-ray Disc players for white-box sale in the China market, as well as for export if possible, as early as in the third quarter of 2009, according to industry sources in Taiwan.

The cooperation will involve MediaTek, Sunplus and other Taiwan-based IC designers providing BD chipsets and supplying BD player loaders, to be assembled in China. Target suppliers of BD player loaders include Lite-On IT, Quanta Storage and Behavior Tech Computer (BTC). As a result, BD players’ retail prices may be as low as $99-129, much lower than BD harware’s entry level price.

Since members of the BD Association have not yet reached a consensus on licensing BD patents, China-based makers of BD players may seize upon the uncertainty to muddle through licensing negotiations or evade royalty payments altogether, the sources indicated, DigiTimes suggests.

Story filed 05.01.09

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