March 25, 2002 10:55 AM PST

Sonicblue taps Amazon to sell new DVR

Sonicblue's new ReplayTV4000 line of digital video recorders will be available only through Amazon.com for the next two months, the companies said Monday.

Amazon, which will be the exclusive national retailer for the new system until May, is taking orders for the device now. The ReplayTV 4000 line allows consumers to automatically record TV shows, pause and instantly replay live television, and skip over commercials without fast-forwarding.

The device also has broadband capability, allowing consumers to send video over the Internet to other ReplayTV 4000s, stream video to other ReplayTVs in the home and view digital photo slide shows on a television set.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said in its fourth-quarter financial report that it had sold out of inventory for the DVR, but it would not elaborate on the number of units sold.

Analysts have estimated that the company sold between 3,000 and 5,000 DVRs during the fourth quarter. Previously the company had sold the DVR only on its Web site. The deal with Amazon marks its first with a major retailer and should help the company improve the distribution of its DVR.

"Supply is the issue, not demand," Needham analyst Andrew Scott said.

Sonicblue, as well as other consumer-electronics makers, had better- than-expected sales during a strong holiday season. In addition to the ReplayTV unit, the company was unable to keep up with demand for its Rio CD-based MP3 player line and its line of Go-Video combination DVD/VCR players.

Sonicblue's ReplayTV DVRs are part of the company's plans to push DVR technology to consumers. The ReplayTV units target the high end of the market. The company is trying to attract the rest of the market with the help of licensing partners, such as Samsung.

The device will be available in four models: the ReplayTV 4040, with up to 40 hours of storage, for $699.99; the 4080, with up to 80 hours of storage, for $999.99; the 4160, with up to 160 hours of storage, for $1,499.99; and the 4320, with up to 320 hours of storage, for $1,999.

The company faces competition from TiVo and start-up Moxi Digital, among others looking to add DVR features to a home entertainment system.

The company has been facing some turmoil within its executive ranks. On Friday, Sonicblue announced that it was parting ways with Chief Financial Officer David Sugishita, who had been with the company for less than two months.

Chief Operating Officer John Tood will once again assume the role of CFO, on an interim basis.

Best known for selling books and CDs, Amazon also has achieved some success selling electronic goods.

 

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