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Fat Japan DVD group sees skinnier sales

Japan’s DVD Forum may have gotten larger — swelling up from its original 10-member manufacturing team to more than 120 makers, marketers and designers — but its sales forecasts are getting smaller.

Toshiba Electronics prexy Taizo Nishimura told a Tokyo press confab Friday that projected production of home-market DVD players in Japan would crest at between 300,000 and 400,000 units for 1997-98, coming up well short of the initial Forum expectation of between 500,000 and 600,000 units for the same period.

But Forum members continued to paint rosy pictures of future DVD sales, not only in Japan (where players have been on sale since November 1996) but globally. Nishimura and other execs said Friday that sales will likely double for the 1998-99 production cycle over the current numbers and that the total installed base worldwide could approach 2 million by the first quarter of 1999.

Among the newly-installed DVD Forum members were some of the usual hardware players —Samsung, LG/GoldStar and Fujitsu — but also some surprises, such as American chip giant Intel Corp.

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