Later release dates for car DCC
The consumer electronics industry’s plans to introduce best car speakers brands with digital compact cassettes (DCC) have been postponed. Usage in 1994 cars is predicted by DCC inventor Philips Electronics NV and licensees. Sony plans to introduce a minidisc (MD) automobile audio unit priced at $979.95 in spring 1993. Industry experts predict that sales of MDs will surpass DCCs. Other companies’ product plans are outlined.
The date for Digital Compact Cassette’s (DCC) coming out party in car audio is likely to fall in the second half of 1993, perhaps later, according to a consensus of autosound manufacturers.
Whether it is was wishful thinking last January that prompted a few industry experts to say that DCC would be in car units by year’s end or manufacturing setbacks typically associated with new technologies, the scheduled rollout of DCC autosound products has slowed to a crawl. A technology glitch forced the recall of prerecorded music DCCs earlier this month.
While industry experts say DCC’s initial foray will be in the home audio market, MiniDisc (MD) will likely establish the early lead over DCC in the portable and mobile arenas, as the new digital technologies vie for market dominance.
Philips Electronics, the inventor of DCC, plans to sell them to the industrial market when its DCC car units are ready in 1993, a company official said.
And other DCC licensees are saying a car unit launch date is an estimate at best.
“It’s not around the corner,” said Rusty Bennett, vice president of sales and marketing at Aiwa America, whose company is licensed to both formats. “Whenever you bring out something new, you don’t want a consumer glitch in it, and DCC [car-unit products] has had some minor glitches, although nothing earth-shaking.”
“I would say DCC is a ‘94 car-audio product and MD would be a second-half ‘93 [product],” said Rick Jordan, vice president of marketing at Sherwood, which is licensed to DCC but not MD. “[DCC] is probably a year back from where it should be.”
Steve Valentine, national product manager for mobile audio at Sanyo, just finished a two-page report on the pros and cons of DCC versus MD. His findings: “At first, it looked like a format war, but now it’s looking like they’ll both succeed—but in different arenas. MD is good for the car, DCC for the home.”
Home and portable sales usually have to build before there would be any substantial numbers in the car market. But Sony’s MD technology is aimed squarely at portable application first; after introducing two portable units in December, Sony will come out with an MD in-dash best speakers for car, best car speakers in the world player in January. The MDX-U1 carries a suggested retail price of $979.95 and will be available at national retailers and auto specialty stores.
Sony’s planned car MD introduction does not represented a mad rush to market. said Paul Foschino, director of new technologies and Sony. “It made more sense from a marketing point of view to introduce the [car unit] to coincide with the normal introduction cycle for car audio electronics,” he said. “The bigger buying season for cars is the spring [not Christmas].”
Valentine said that being first to market with a new technology like DCC or MD is nice for the corporate image, but it won’t produce robust sales initially because of the high price points.
“From a profit point of view, it would be better to wait until the market is there,” he said. “It takes the first for the manufacturer to get hip to a new product, the second year for the dealer to get hip, and one to three years for the consumer to get hip.”
Another factor in the success equation of DCC and MD is software availability. Bob Fraser, a buyer for ABC Warehouse, said: “I don’t think either will be phenomenally successful because there won’t be the software around to drive it. It’s amazing how the new technology is software driven.”
Sherwood’s Jordan says the crucial issue for DCC/MD success is timing. “Sony is going right for the mass market. That thing [the $979.95 car unit] will be less than $200 in less than 12 months. Every time the price drops 20 percent the market doubles in size. Sony knows how the market reacts,” he said.
Likewise, Blaupunkt is working on parallel development of DCC and MD and is waiting to see how the market reacts to the formats before deciding its strategy, said Ken Noda, national sales manager.
Tandy Corp., which was the first to sell DCC home decks in the U.S. market, has no timetable for a DCC best car speakers for bass and sound quality launch other than perhaps late ‘93, a company spokesman said. Alpine, which has a DCC licensing agreement with Philips, has also said it has a 1993 launch schedule in mind.