Pioneer says to launch Blu-ray recorders this year

Trademark of Blu-Ray DVD technology is displayed at an electronic shop in Tokyo February 17, 2008. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese consumer electronics maker Pioneer Corp 6773.T said on Tuesday it plans to launch Blu-ray DVD recorders by the end of the year, taking aim at a rapidly growing market after the end of a bitter format battle.

Pioneer is developing Blu-ray recorders with help from Sharp Corp 6753.T, Pioneer's top shareholder with a 14 percent stake. Sharp already offers Blu-ray recorders.

Pioneer plans to start selling Blu-ray recorders in Japan before the year-end shopping season, followed by overseas launches.

The selling price and unit sales target have yet to be set, a Pioneer spokesman said.

Blu-ray recorder demand in Japan is likely to jump 18 fold to 3.6 million units by 2012, according to Fuji Chimera Research Institute.

Japan was at the heart of an optical-disc format war that pitted Blu-ray discs championed by Sony Corp 6758.T against Toshiba Corp's 6502.T HD-DVD discs, until movie studios lined up behind Blu-ray and its rival format bit the dust in February.

Shares in Pioneer were down 2.4 percent at 842 yen, underperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index .IELEC.T, which fell 1.4 percent.

Reporting by Elaine Lies and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Brent Kininmont