By James Wells

SYDNEY: Sharp Corporation executive director, Takashi Nakagawa, who is visiting Sydney to launch the world’s largest LCD television measuring 108-inches tonight at Doltone House, has apologised for the delay in LCD stock to Australian retailers.

“We hoped to introduce large size LCDs to market earlier, but due to increasing demand worldwide of the product, we have had to delay the launch of the product to Australia. We would like to apologise to our retail partners and consumers,” Nakagawa told in an exclusive interview this afternoon.

“The demand for our products in our domestic market is very high as well as in North America and Europe. Strictly speaking, we supplied some new large LCD televisions into the Australian market last year, however the quantity was not sufficient. This time we will supply enough quantity as well as new designs – including our piano black finish.”

Nakagawa also announced that Sharp will double its production of motherglass substrates, which measure up to 5.3 square metres, from 30,000 units per month to 60,000 units per month. The Kameyama plant is expected to create 90,000 substrates by 2008, with each substrate able to create glass for six 52-inch LCD panels.

Nakagawa told that Sharp “will try” to introduce the 108-inch LCD televisions to the Australian market by the end of the year. The primary market for the world’s largest LCD panel is the monitor and display market which will be developed prior to the mass commercialisation of the panel in the television market.

“The demand for 108-inch television is very high. Moreover, the demand for 108-inch display is also very high. Before the introduction of a 108-inch television, we will try to sell the 108-inch panel as a replacement display for plasma,” Nakagawa said.

Sharp has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in an above-the-line televisions advertising campaign since the beginning of the year to increase consumer awareness of the Aquos brand and the new LCD televisions manufactured at its Kameyama plant.

Last October, Sharp opened the second stage of its factory which is located two hours from Osaka and has cost $A4.1 billion to build.

Nakagawa also confirmed that Sharp will release Blu-ray Disc players from May this year, and that this global launch will include the Australian market.