Microsoft Corp’s WebTV Networks Inc is set to miss out on the lucrative Christmas market with the late shipment in volume of its new WebTV Plus set-top box, which was announced in mid- September with shipments promised within three weeks. The new box is the follow-up to what Microsoft now calls WebTV Classic, which it is now selling for $99 after a rebate. Sony Electronics Inc, Philips Consumer Electronics Co and newcomer Mitsubishi Consumer Electronics America will manufacture the new box, which is not expected in any volume until January at the earliest. WebTV said there was no special reason for the delay, just a case of getting the product into the stores. Philips says it already has boxes in the channel, Mitsubishi says it does not start any shipments until early next week, and Sony didn’t get back to us by press time. The WebTV Plus box and service combination sells for $300 with a monthly charge of $20 for the content and online access. Around 200,000 of both types of boxes have been sold and another 50,000 are expected to shift before Christmas.
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