Chiba, Japan -- Matsushita president Kirk Nakamura provided some insights into his views on DVD, the Digital TV market in the United States, and chip/component shortages that will mean product shortages in the fourth quarter and beyond.
Concerning product shortages, Nakamura blames it on demand for cellular phones, which have drained supplies of semiconductors and components: "In '99 there were 260 million sold worldwide, while this year there will be about 400 million. That's an increase of 114 million in one year alone. If you count the number of components per phone, about 300, then there is a shortage of 40 billion components!" He predicts chip and component shortages should continue for the next couple of years.
Regarding the DVD market, Nakamura addressed the DVD-RAM and DVD Audio situations. He noted that the introduction of DVD-RAM was slowed "due to the shortage of semiconductors" and said that DVD-RAM is still the best recordable solution because "it is compatible with PCs, while [other recordable formats] are not completely friendly with computers. You must have computer compatibility in the digital networking age."
As for DVD Audio, Nakamura said its launch was delayed a year, but the product will be out in the fall, and it should be backed with a sufficient amount of music software to make it a success.
And in digital TV, he reminded everyone that 60 percent of the U.S. market watches TV through cable and DBS services, so it is "essential to have [HDTV] programming through cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcasts. That is when the market will grow and we will be able to provide datacasting and other services."