Toshiba Joins Rivals in Planning to Unveil 3D TV by End-Mar 2011

Toshiba plans to launch a three-dimensional television by the end of March 2011, Toshiba spokesman Keisuke Ohmori told Dow Jones Newswires on Tuesday. In preparing to do so, Toshiba joins rivals Panasonic and Sony, which are also investing in next-generation technologies to woo consumers as competition intensifies from rivals in South Korea. Both Panasonic and Sony have said they plan to launch 3-D TVs next year.

Ohmori declined to provide an investment amount for Toshiba, but said developing content to lure consumers to 3D is one of the industry's major challenges. For consumer electronics manufacturers, 3-D is considered the next major technological breakthrough. They hope it will spur sales of TVs and Blu-ray players, similar to the way high-definition video helped raise demand for liquid-crystal-display and plasma televisions in the early 2000s.

Viewers of 3D television will need to wear special glasses, similar to those used for watching 3D movies in theaters. Toshiba plans to sell 15 million TVs in its fiscal year through March 2011 to grab a 10% market share. That would be up from an estimated 10 million units for the current fiscal year ending March 2010.

Toshiba, which makes everything from memory chips to computers and nuclear reactors, had been investing in "surface-conduction electron-emitter display," or SED technology, together with Canon. SED promises the same level of brightness and color as a cathode-ray tube - the bulky technology used in conventional televisions. Canon took full control of the business, however, in 2007 due to a U.S. lawsuit with Austin, Texas-based Nano-Proprietary. Ohmori said Toshiba is no longer investing in SED technology.

By Yun-Hee Kim and Yuzo Yamaguchi, Dow Jones Newswires