Japanese manufacturer Funai has declared its intention to introduce a Blu-ray Disc player for OEM distribution by the end of the year.
Funai's pricing has had a strong impact on other formats, and it is expected that the same could happen again with high definition media.
Funai currently markets players under its own brand names (Funai, Symphonic and Sylvania in the US); however, the company said there are no plans to market the player under its own name and products will be for OEM distribution only. Sources expect the retail price to be around $500, which is between $300-500 less than current standalone BD players in the US.
The company is a favourite supplier for Wal-Mart, winning a Billion Dollar Supplier Prize in 2006, and distribution through this retail giant could mean that BD player success would mirror that of DVD products for Funai, which has an estimated 52% of the DVD player/recorder market in the US. Although the company has not ruled out an HD DVD player, the current focus appears to be on Blu-ray.