Motorola Inc. and Toshiba Corp. have agreed to work together in developing semiconductor chips for Japan’s high-definition television system, a development that could help Motorola gain an edge over its U.S. competitors in a market that’s expected to be extremely lucrative over the long term.
The venture is also the first in which American and Japanese chip firms have joined forces to pursue HDTV, a group of technologies that will drastically improve television picture quality.
HDTV has been the subject of a protracted worldwide battle over technical standards, and Motorola and Toshiba will be working on chips for the HDTV system developed by the Japan Broadcasting Corp. That system is now undergoing a trial in Japan, but the United States will not make a decision on technical standards for HDTV until 1992.
Though it is certain that the United States will not adopt the Japanese system, Motorola will still gain expertise from its work with Toshiba--work that could prove useful in making parts for American HDTV.
“What they learn will give them a leg up,” said Dean McCarron, an analyst with In-Stat, a Phoenix-based market research firm. “They’re not letting an opportunity slip past.”
Motorola and Toshiba will develop components to translate the HDTV broadcast signal--which is transmitted in a coded format to accommodate the vast amount of information needed for HDTV--into a usable picture.
Motorola already has a joint venture with Toshiba for the development and production of memory chips. Motorola has long had a far more significant presence in Japan than other U.S. chip companies, and the company reportedly plans to build a new, $600-million factory in northern Japan, scheduled for completion for 1993.