Circuit City is expected to launch a house-branded version of a DataPlay portable audio player at the end of July, according to a DataPlay executive.
Raymond Uhlir, DataPlay's marketing VP, said Circuit City's product will use the Classic brand name and cost about $300. Uhlir displayed a working model of the Classic player at PC Expo last week.
A Circuit City spokesman would neither confirm nor deny Uhlir's statement, other than to say that it is looking into selling Dataplay devices at some point.
Circuit's introduction will come just after iRiver and Evolution launch their players, which also were on exhibit, in early July.
"The OEM brand option offers a better profit model for the retailer," Uhlir said, although he expects Circuit City to also sell DataPlay devices from other brands.
Samsung is slated to bring out a player for the holidays, Uhlir said. At that time about 12 different hardware devices should be on the market. About 50 prerecorded music titles should be on the market for the July launch with 10 to 20 being added each week going forward, Uhlir said.
Toshiba, the only other top-tier CE maker with DataPlay plans, has not made any announcements on whether it will introduce a product.
DataPlay hardware was originally slated to hit retail last fall, but a self-imposed manufacturing delay pushed back the launch.
Imation has readied its blank DataPlay media product to coincide with the hardware launch. Jane Rodmyre Payfer, Imation's personal storage solutions marketing manager, said Imation has exclusive worldwide distribution and manufacturing rights for DataPlay media. Imation intends to start off slowly by shipping just one SKU, a three-pack for $29.99, in July, she said.
Payfer believes DataPlay hardware and software will make a big splash during the holiday season. "DataPlay is one of the very few new technologies being introduced for this holiday season," she said, which should bring the technology a certain amount of cachet among consumers.