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Blue lasers to emerge intact from format war

19 Feb 2008

Impressive growth for GaN laser diodes is still predicted, even if the triumph of Blu-ray leads to a change in Sony and Nichia's relationship.

Although Toshiba has discontinued its HD DVD business, the growth of the market for blue laser diodes will escape any major disruption from converting exclusively to Sony’s Blu-ray format. So says Asif Anwar, a market analyst for Strategy Analytics, who thinks the factors underlying increased sales of the next-generation players will remain otherwise unchanged.

"Our forecasts are pretty bullish on the overall growth for laser diode markets, and that was regardless of which format won," Anwar said.

Toshiba has announced that it will stop the manufacture, development and marketing of HD DVD players and recorders. "We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called 'next-generation format war' and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop," said Atsutoshi Nishida, the Japanese corporation's president and CEO.

Anwar has previously forecast that the GaN laser diode market, worth $34 million in sales in 2006, will grow to $1.2 billion by 2011. Despite Nishida's attempts to "help the market", Anwar doesn't believe that the cessation of hostilities will be a particular boost to overall sales levels. "I don't necessarily think we'll see an acceleration of Blu-ray sales," he said. "The consumer still has to decide when and if they want to buy a next generation player and I think that is still going to follow the same kind of trajectory that we originally forecast."

The blue laser diode sector is dominated by Nichia, who are estimated by Strategy Analytics to own over 80 percent of the overall market. Although it has close ties with Sony, Anwar thinks the additional benefit from the Blu-ray victory might not stack up to a huge windfall for Nichia.

"You have to remember is that Sony has been developing its own laser diode technology based on bulk GaN," he said. "Obviously Nichia will continue to dominate, but Sony's now got added incentive to put more efforts into its own GaN substrate diodes."

 
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