Target to sell only Blu-ray DVD players

In this file phoyo LG employees look at the new LG Super Multi Blue player at the LG booth before the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 7, 2007. The single DVD player supports both next-generation high definition DVD technologies, offering a solution to a brewing format war between backers of Sony Corp's Blu-ray format and HD DVD, which is backed by a group led by Toshiba Corp. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Target plans to carry only Blu-ray high definition DVD players through the holiday shopping season, a move that boosts the Sony-backed technology and may deal a blow to rival HD-DVD.

In a statement on Thursday, Sony Corp. 6758.T said that Target TGT.N will exclusively carry Blu-ray players "at least through the holiday season" and will also expand its inventory of Blu-ray discs.

The move begins in October with Target’s sale and promotion of Sony’s BDP-S300 unit, which sells for about $500.

It was the second major retailer in as many months to throw its weight behind Blu-ray in the industrywide standards war reminiscent of VHS and Betamax. Blockbuster, the largest U.S. provider of home movie entertainment, in June set plans to line its shelves with Blu-ray DVDs, saying that Blu-ray rentals are “significantly outpacing HD DVD rentals.”

HD DVD is developed by Toshiba Corp. 6502.T and backed by Microsoft Corp. MSFT.O and film studios including Warner Bros. TWX.N. It competes with Sony's Blu-ray which is built into its PlayStation 3 game console, and supported by companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.KS, Apple AAPL.O and Dell DELL.O.

Earlier this month, the HD DVD camp said its stand-alone video players have outsold rival Blu-ray players by a three-to-one margin in Europe’s main markets so far this year.

Mass market acceptance of high-definition video is still some way off, due in part to the high price of the devices, and the fact that some movies and programs are available on one platform and not the other.

Reporting by Franklin Paul