Everyone who has been keeping an eye on developments in high-definition television knows that it's probably best to wait a while before committing to buying either a Blu-ray or an HD DVD player, a fact that was underlined by an announcement from Sharp Japan today.

The company announced in Tokyo that it has just started mass production of the blue-laser diodes used in both competing high definition (HD) formats, making it likely that prices of components and players alike will drop.

The first diodes to come off the production line are low-power devices intended for use in machines that only play HD discs, with higher-powered diodes for HD writers coming next year.

Sharp's factory in Hiroshima prefecture is currently running at 150,000 diodes per month, but Sharp plans to increase that to half a million in late 2007. Although Sharp refused to comment on the value of the market, the Nikkei newspaper reported today that it expects blue-laser diode sales to be worth around 15 billion Yen (£65 million) annually.

With Sharp joining the supply chain for HD DVD and Blu-ray machines, the inevitable price cuts will also be accompanied by an end to the component shortages of the kind that caused Sony to curtail its PlayStation 3 launch plans . J Mark Lytle