Deciding to wait until next year, Sony (SNE) becomes the first company to back down from an end-of-year release date that industry observers have viewed with increased skepticism as legal and technical disputes among the film, computer, consumer electronics, and recording industries have dragged on through the summer.
"Those issues are still not quite finalized, and here we are on the verge of September," said Sony Electronics vice president Rick Clancy. "The window of opportunity for the fall selling season has passed us by."
Film studios, for example, are concerned that illegal copies of their movies will proliferate and are pushing for strong disc encryption. Furthermore, companies are still testing compatibility to make sure DVDs as well as CDs will play on all players.
The same size and look as compact discs, DVDs can hold a full-length movie and then some. The discs, which will play on standalone machines or on a PC, are being touted as the next great delivery vehicle for audio, video, software, games, and other digital media.
"This is too important to just drop a product in at the last minute just to say that we're first," said Clancy.
Other companies including Toshiba still plan to release the players for the Christmas season.