The other week I reported that Sony’s HMZ-T1 HMD, which ‘launched’ on 11/11/11, had been backordered and pushed back to an estimated availability date of 1/17/12. All store stock was going to be diverted to those who had pre-ordered the HMZ-T1, according to Sony, because they had underestimated the US demand and apparently under allocated units to the region. However, it seems that the real story is that Sony underestimated demand worldwide.
A call to my local Sony store was met with a rep telling me that the store had only received one unit for sale and, as expected, that unit flew out the door. Apparently the store had also received one demo unit which is now on display but not for sale. If you’ve been meaning to test the Sony HMZ-T1 for yourself, get a call in to your local Sony store and ask if they have one on display. You may be able to go in to check it out, but it’s unlikely that they’ll have any sale stock.
I’m unsure how much impact it had, but the Sony store rep said that shortages were due in part to some of the recent earthquakes and flooding in the region of their factories. I haven’t found this information corroborated elsewhere, so it could have been an assumption on the part of the rep.
After my call, I surveyed several of Sony’s international sites. The US site still indicates an estimated shipping date of 1/17/12. Sony sites in the UK, Germany, Sweden, France, and Spain, all indicate that the HMZ-T1 head mounted display is completely out of stock. None of the sites that I checked other than the US site even offer an estimated availability date.
So I’m sorry to say, but if you were hoping to pick up the HMZ-T1 for the holidays, it seems like you’ll be out of luck. Head mounted displays have failed in the past due to poor demand, but it seems that at the moment, the supply side is to blame. The silver lining here is that there is demand, which is good for the HMD market as a whole. Once Sony can fix their supply problems, we might actually see head mounted displays take off. Maybe Silicon Micro Display can capitalize on Sony’s supply shortage if they can get their ST1080 out the door quickly enough.