Matsushita to launch recordable DVD player

What will the future of recordable DVD look like? We don’t know, but given recent developments and trends throughout the industry it appears safe to say, we will see a revival of a serious format war, as we have seen in the VHS/Beta war years ago.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd said on Monday it will launch its first recordable DVD player in Japan in June, mounting a challenge to rival Pioneer Corp and possibly setting off a DVD “format war”. Matsushita, whose brands include Panasonic, National, and Technics, said its unit will use a 4.7 gigabyte Digital Versatile Disc-Random Access Memory (DVD-RAM) disk and sell at 250,000 yen ($2,300) — the same price as Pioneer’s DVD-RW player.

Pioneer’s DVD-RW player was the world’s first recordable DVD machine, but it uses a different format which has also been adopted by Sharp Corp and Kenwood Corp . Matsushita, the world’s largest maker of consumer electronics, plans to work with Toshiba Corp and Hitachi Ltd with its DVD-RAM system.

“We aim to promote DVD-RAM as the de facto industry standard in consumer DVD video recording. We have no plan to make it compatible with DVD-RW recorders,” a Matsushita official said. Osaka-based Matsushita aims to produce 4,000 units a month and market the machines in the United States later this year. A launch schedule for Europe has not been decided, it said. Industry specialists see Matsushita’s entry as the start of a “format war” in DVD recording systems that are seen as successors to the ubiquitous video cassette recorder.

Matsushita, which introduced the world’s first DVD player in 1996, said it plans to boost monthly production capacity of discs used in its DVD players by 130 percent to 14 million units by the end of this year. The firm estimates the global DVD hardware market will more than double to 49 million units in 2000, against 22 million units in 1999. Japanese electronics manufacturers including Sony Corp , Pioneer, and Toshiba are planning to substantially boost output of DVD players to meet growing world demand.

Matsushita also plans to boost its DVD-related group sales to 250 billion yen in the business year started April 1, against 150 billion yen a year ago by raising its production of DVD players. Matsushita shares closed on Monday at 2,715 yen, down 1.27 percent. ($1 equals 108.83 Yen)

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