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RCA To Promote Flash Camcorder To Moms

New York — RCA chose media and messages that target moms in the 25-50 age group for the launch of its latest flash-memory camcorder, which is positioned as an easy-to-use “everyday camcorder” that’s at the ready to capture spontaneous events.

To underscore the simplicity theme, RCA also announced that the camcorder will dock with a planned DVD recorder that burns the contents of the video camera to disc at the press of one button. Fall availability is planned for the device, called the RCA Memory Maker. The company did not release pricing or indicate whether the DVD-/+R/RW recorder will incorporate TV tuner for time-shifting.

Ads for the camcorder, the $129-suggested EZ201 Small Wonder, will appear on women’s Web sites and on Radio Disney. Print ads will carry the headline “Don’t Miss A Moment,” said Rich Phipps, business development GM for RCA’s audio/video business. The rollout will also be supported by two online video contests in which consumers will submit their own 30-second videos via the Internet.

The camcorder is available nationwide in Circuit City stores and will appear in a Circuit City circular May 6. Distribution will be expanded in June through such retailers as Wal-Mart, Amazon, Pomida, Shopko, Meijer, HSN and others for a total of 3,000 storefronts by mid-June, Phipps said.

The ad campaign is not targeted to moms younger than 25, said marketing VP Dave Arland, because the husbands of younger moms typically buy a fancy camcorder when their first child is born. After that, however, the camera often goes unused because the rechargeable battery isn’t charged, the household is out of tapes or discs, or it’s simply too complicated to use, Phipps noted.

To encourage consumers to use the Small Wonder, RCA powers its camcorder with two off-the-shelf AA alkaline or lithium batteries, incorporates a slide-out USB connector for direct connection to a PC, and embeds video-manager software that self-launches when the camcorder is plugged into the PC. The software includes video-editing capabilities and ability to upload videos to for viewing by others. The software also compresses videos for emailing, and it converts single frames of a video to digital still images. Consumers would use their existing DVD-burner software to burn the videos to DVD.

The 5.25-ounce Small Wonder with flip-out 1.5-inch video screen features 512MB of embedded memory to store 1 hour of MPEG-4 video in long-play mode and half-hour of HQ-mode (640 by 480) video. An SD card slot is available to expand memory capacity. Battery life is two hours on alkalines and more than seven hours on optional lithium batteries.

The Small Wonder joins another RCA flash-memory camcorder, the EZ105. It uses technology licensed from Pure Digital. The EZ105 also features 512MB embedded memory, but it lacks memory-card slot and such Small Wonder features as self-launching software, slide-out USB connection, and the CEA-standardized connector for docking with the planned DVD-recorder, said Arland. The EZ105 features a fixed screen, whereas the Small Wonder features a flip-out screen that lets users record themselves.

In other product launches, the company plans June and July availability of multiple MP3 players shown at CES. The company also claimed to hold the number three spot in retail-level U.S. sales of MP3 players in 2006 after Apple and SanDisk. RCA’s share is underreported by existing market research that does not track MP3 player sales through mass market retailers where RCA is strong, Arland claimed. RCA sells 5,000 MP3 players per day, the company added.

Research conducted by Edison Market Research shows that in January 2007, 12 percent of the U.S. population owned an iPod, 5 percent of the population owned an iPod and another brand of MP3 player, and 13 percent owned a non-iPod brand, the company said.

The new RCA Gem series of MP3 players is targeted to the other 70 percent who don’t own an MP3 player, thanks to the series’ high flash-memory capacities and prices as low as a suggested $49 for a 1GB model and $59 for a 2GB model.

The company also said it will look at incorporating the unprotected AAC format next year following EMI’s decision to offer unprotected AAC-format music through Apple’s download site.