Samsung Jumps Into Flash Market, While Deferring DVD Burner Launch

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Samsung will introduce a line of flash memory products this summer, but it has pulled back on plans to enter the rewritable DVD retail market.

In June, the company expects to have 128MB and 256MB CompactFlash, SD, MMC and SmartMedia cards and a USB drive in stores, said Sean Stead, marketing and storage product manager. The company will leverage the fact that it already is a major flash memory manufacturer to bring these products to market with a very competitive shelf price in order to compete with the slew of similar products now available, he said.

The flash product road map shows 512MB versions of these devices out by August and a 1GB out by September. Pricing has not been set for any of the products, but Stead said Samsung will try and bring the 1GB models initially somewhere in the $200 to $299 range. He added that for 1GB flash products to truly become a volume seller, the price needs to be below $200.

Samsung will support the flash program with a new point-of-sale plan, Stead said, that will position the devices for impulse buying.

Unlike the flash category, Samsung has slammed the brakes on its plan to enter the rewritable DVD retail market this year. In January, Samsung was eyeing an early summer release for a DVD+RW drive or possibly some type of multidrive capable of burning to all the formats. Instead the company is holding back, with the possibility that something might be released late this year.

There were several mitigating factors behind the decision, Stead said, primarily Samsung did not have the manufacturing capability to produce the needed 4x DVD burner that has been the hot seller in stores. The company's plant was overwhelmed with orders for a slower burner that was slated for its OEM business, and it was unwilling to bring this drive to retail because it would be inferior to competitors.

Samsung has not sided with either the DVD-RW or DVD+RW formats, but instead is waiting for one to take a commanding lead. Last year, Stead expected the plus format to be the winner, but right now he sees DVD-RW as having an edge due to the greater availability of -R blank media and a slightly better backward compatibility with the installed base of drives and players.

Samsung has moved forward on the combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM front. Last month it released a 52x speed version with a $99 street price and a stand-alone model price at $79.

Samsung will launch four new LCD monitors this month: the 1501MP, 1701MP, 152MP and 172MP. Suggested pricing is $429, $629, $589 and $789, respectively. The primary upgrade is the inclusion of TV tuners in all models. The 152MP and 172MP also will come with a secondary snap-on TV tuner, giving these picture-in-picture capability.


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