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Technical Problems Behind Sony DVD Delay?

Story by Newsbytes

Sony Corporation's decision to delay launch of its digital video disk (DVD) players until spring next year may not solely be due to market considerations. Industry sources, close to the DVD consortium, have suggested to Newsbytes that technical problems may lie at the root of the decision.

Sony has announced it will launch DVD players in spring, 1997, while most other core members of the DVD consortium are planning launches in the three months up to the end of the year. "We think DVD is a very important product," said a Sony spokesperson.

"We want to have studied the market carefully and we want to ensure a smooth market introduction for our hardware and software products," added the spokesperson, who asked not to be named.

When DVD is launched later this year, it will be a read-only product, the recordable format having not been decided yet. For this reason, Sony needs to ensure the market is ready and there is a good range of movies, Newsbytes was told.

However, several sources close to the DVD consortium have suggested privately that technical problems, and in particular supply of components, may be more to blame. When the Toshiba and Matsushita group joined the Sony and Philips group to announce a common DVD system, the majority of the technology was contributed by the former grouping. Sony and Philips had more to catch up on and more work to do.

"It may be due to the supply of components," said one source. He explained that each company doesn't make every component in their own DVD players themselves. With all companies gearing up to launch, supply is short and demand is high, especially for the very specialized components that are needed in some parts of the DVD players.

Currently, the internal market, between DVD consortium members, is enjoying very high demand and there are supply shortages. The special lasers required by DVD players are one of the areas where demand is above supply, another source told Newsbytes.

When asked whether technical problems were at all to blame for the delay until spring next year, the Sony spokesperson refused to comment on any specific area and simply said that the decision was reached after considerations of all areas of importance. These areas included market conditions, technical reasons, marketing, distribution, and other areas.

A number of other companies are planning DVD launches.

Matsushita announced today that it will begin selling two DVD video players and a TV with integrated DVD player from November 1. This made the Osaka-based company the first to show finished products and announce a launch date.

Keisuke Ohmori at Toshiba told Newsbytes the company's plans are unchanged, saying, "We have no date announced but it will be this autumn." He added that the company is also planning to begin selling a DVD-ROM drive for computers in the fourth quarter of this year.

"We are planning to release a player this fall," said Hitachi's Emi Takase. In common with all the other companies contacted, Hitachi would narrow the launch date down no further. Pioneer's John Seki said, "We are planning to announce a launch in September. That will be sometime in October, for Japan, and December, for the US."


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