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Panasonic Pins Future To SD, DTV and Recordable DVD

1/08/2003 06:32:00 PM Eastern

Las Vegas -Panasonic executives reported today that going forward the company will focus its consumer electronics efforts on three core categories: SD card products, digital television and DVD recordable devices.

Andy Takani, CEO of Panasonic Consumer Electronics, said the philosophy undergirding these and future Panasonic products, called 'One' will center around four key aspects: the capture, viewing, storage and movement of digital content across a variety of platforms.

Andy Nelkin, VP of Digital Technology, Panasonic, outlined the company's strategic vision and new products at its Jan. 8 press conference. 'One is a concept that empowers products to handle digital content and seamlessly integrate devices,' he said.

One will not be a brand but simply a term to indicate the concept of unity among the product family, Nelkin said.

An early indication of the direction of One is an agreement, inked in October, between Microsoft and Panasonic for the new HighMAT standard: a technology specification co-developed by the two companies to improve the interoperability of digital content stored on optical media.

HighMAT will make it easier for PCs and CE devices to read data on optical disks, said Mike Aguilar, VP of merchandizing, Panasonic.

Aguilar also announced that Panasonic will introduce seven DVD players in 2003 that will support the HighMAT specification.

Hoping to further spur the growth of the surging SD card format, which Aguilar described as the 'true bridge' between digital devices, the company highlighted its SVAV 30 4-in-1 E-Wear device that combines a digital video recorder, digital still camera, digital voice recorder and digital audio player which can also record TV, through a VCR, onto an SD card.

The company also introduced its first DVD camcorder, the VDR-M30 which will record video onto DVD-RAM/DVD-R discs. It will feature an SD slot and have a suggested retail price of $899.95.

The final prong of the company's strategy, digital television, is seen as the 'hub' of the home network, Aguilar said. The company announced its first digital television set that is digital cable-ready without the need for a set-top box.

Panasonic was the first manufacturer to sign on with the cable industry's POD-Host Interface License Agreement (PHILA) to enable it to begin building next-generation digital cable ready televisions, the first of which will roll out in September.

The move was hailed by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who said that digital cable offered his subscribers a chance to reap the benefits of HDTV and other innovative content over their cable lines.

Speaking to the dynamic nature of the CE business, Don Iwatani, chairman/CEO of Matsushita Electric Corp. of America, recalled that in the past his CE business motto was `evolve or die.'

'Now, I tell them it's `evolve fast or die.''