Sony expects its digital videodisc hardware to hit U.S. retail shelves next spring, according to the company’s DVD marketing strategy outlined for reporters Tuesday during a meeting in Culver City.

While most of the specifics of the plan will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month, John Briesch, president of Sony Electronics’ audiovisual group, said Sony is targeting high-end, early adopters as the first purchasers of the gear. Such an approach differs from that of Thomson, which is expected to introduce a product aimed at a mass market.

Ben Feingold, president of Columbia TriStar Home Video, said only a handful of titles will be released initially. Those will be a mix of new releases and catalog titles, he said, adding that more titles will be made available gradually.

Sticking points

Feingold added that he expects copy protection and regional coding issues to be resolved shortly. Those issues are the remaining sticking points in the agreement among the computer, home entertainment and software industries to reach a standard for DVD video.

On the music side, the quest for a standard has been a more arduous process. Sony Music’s Ted Green acknowledged that a number of issues remain to be hammered out.

“Until we know what the standard is, we don’t know details about plans for the audio side of DVD,” he said.

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