Sony Delays Sale of LocationFree TV Box

The Associated Press
Friday, October 20, 2006; 4:43 AM

TOKYO -- In yet another embarrassment, Sony on Friday postponed the rollout of a product promised for next week to do more tests, a day after lowering its earnings forecast because of a massive battery recall and manufacturing delays.

Sony shares dipped in Tokyo trading, falling 0.8 percent to close at 4,750 yen ($40). The shares have lost about half their value in the last five years as Sony lost out in competition against rivals.

Even Japan's trade minister, Akira Amari, expressed concern about Sony Corp.'s technical capabilities.

"What has become of the Sony known for its technology?" asked Amari, a former Sony employee. "I hope it will solve its problems soon to quickly recover its brand image reputed for technological prowess."

The latest woes are hitting the Tokyo-based electronics and entertainment company as it tries to turn around its electronics sector, trimming jobs and wiping out unprofitable operations.

Sony, which has already delayed the PlayStation 3 next-generation video game console for the European market by four months, said it was delaying the sales date of LocationFree TV Box LF-Box1, which streams TV shows wirelessly to other gadgets.

In Japan, shipping was postponed from Oct. 27 to Nov. 17, the company said in a statement.

In the U.S., a new shipping date has not been set, but it had been promised for sometime in October, Sony spokeswoman Natsuki Eto said.

She said more tests were needed to adapt its remote controller to more models of DVD recorders and other machines the product will connect with.

When asked about risks to its reputation by delaying a product, Eto said Sony decided a delay was better if the product will be compatible with more of the latest models.

Last month, Sony delayed the Japanese release of its new digital Walkman portable player by a week until Sept. 23 because of a malfunction of an unspecified part.

On Thursday, Sony revised its group net profit for the fiscal year through March 2007 to 80 billion yen ($673 million), down 38 percent from the 130 billion yen ($1.1 billion) it had projected in July. The lowered projection is down 35 percent from the 123.6 billion yen profit marked the previous fiscal year.

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