Almost a year and a half after admitting defeat in the HD format wars, Toshiba has confirmed plans to produce and market its own Blu-ray disc player. The company had been trying to pitch an enhanced DVD player as a cheap alternative to Blu-ray late last year, but according to a report in Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun they finally gave up on that idea and may have a product in stores by year’s end.

From a technology point of view, the production of a Blu-ray player has never been an issue for Toshiba, so its entry into the market has been more a question of when; not if. The company had cited large licensing fees as the main reason for avoiding the market – no doubt pride played a part as well – but those have been significantly reduced. Details of their Blu-ray product plan are sketchy. It appears Toshiba will start with play-only models but may consider a Blu-ray recorder if market demand calls for it.

Although adoption of Blu-ray technology remains rather limited amid the advent of digital downloads and a still dominant DVD presence, the format is at a point of growth. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, unit shipments of Blu-ray players will jump 112% this year, reaching nearly six million, and revenues are expected to top $1 billion for the first time.