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Nakamura Comments On U.S., Worldwide CE Issues

Matsushita’s Kirk Nakamura, calling on his experience as president of Matsushita Electric Company of America, discussed specific U.S. issues and their relation to worldwide trends. Here are some of his comments:

Matsushita’s fiscal-year performance: “During our first quarter [ending June 30] sales were down worldwide 4%, but sales in North America, including Canada, were up 13%. Prices were lower versus last year. In the case of DVD players, sales doubled and the size of the [DVD] market in North America doubled. We expect strong sales through the end of the Christmas season. We see 2000 as a transitional period going from analog to digital. Sales will be up remarkably during 2000” versus calendar year 1999.

Will there be DVD player shortages at retail in the U.S. this fall?: “The category is growing faster than expected, reviving in midyear. We expect sales of 3.5 million units [in the U.S.]. There will be huge demand in the Christmas season, and we have doubled our production since July. We will acquire a 30% share in the U.S. and are ready to fill orders.”

Nakamura added that with the introduction in DVD of Titanic in Japan and the U.S. this month, DVD player demand should be spurred even further.

How will e-commerce affect consumer electronics sales in Japan and the U.S.? Has Matsushita set an e-commerce policy?: “In the U.S. it is expanding rapidly, due to higher PC penetration. It is not popular in Japan as yet. I can’t predict its influence on consumer electronics. I believe consumers would like to test and hear products in person, and hear explanations from salespeople. I don’t see how the Web will change that. We still are in an experimental stage in setting an e-commerce policy.” — Steve Smith