Internet TV flops in Japan

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TOKYO -- The failure of Internet TV to catch on in Japan is causing major Japanese electronics firms to stop production of what was once considered one of the hot new products of the information age, a major Japanese financial daily reports.

Sharp Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Co. will cease marketing their Internet TV products once supplies run out, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports, based on its market survey.

Sharp and Mitsubishi aimed to sell of about 2,000 units each monthly but in the past 18 months, Sharp has sold 8,000 units while Mitsubishi has sold 7,500, the paper says.

Sanyo Electric Co. and NEC Home Electronics are also planning to suspend production. The two firms will start manufacturing Net TVs again once there are firm orders, according to the paper.

Sanyo plans to end retail sales in the fall of this year and will only produce enough units to fill orders with the public sector and major organizations. The company reportedly sold just over 20,000 units in 18 months.

Net TV hit the Japanese market in late 1996 and was expected to be a hot consumer product, but sales have all but dried up in Japan, the paper says.

Problems with rival formats, new software and complicated remote controls are partially to blame for Net TV's failure, it adds.

Of the major firms, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said it will continue its Internet TV production.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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