Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 10 News List

BenQ sees local LCD-TV market growing

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

BenQ Corp (明基), a leading consumer electronics maker in Taiwan, yesterday said liquid-crystal-display (LCD) television sales in the domestic market would double this year, as prices dropped to a "sweet point" and consumers snatched up stylish home appliances.

BenQ, which plans to earn half of its sales from selling branded handsets after purchasing Siemens AG's cellphone division, made the remarks after grabbing the top position in the area of 37-inch models in the Taiwanese market during the third quarter.

"Demand exceeded our expectations. We believe the prices of LCD-TVs are falling to an affordable level for consumers," said Scott Huang (黃思齊), a managing director of BenQ's Asia-Pacific division.

Huang said the company could not meet demand from consumers for its 37-inch model. BenQ debuted the model in August, at the price of NT$69,900 each.

In light of the robust demand, Huang said LCD-TV sales would grow to as many as 7,000 units in Taiwan during the current quarter, up 17 percent from some 6,000 units last quarter.

That would double BenQ's LCD sales for the year to over 20,000 units, from about 10,000 units last year, he added.

In other words, the brand -- only 3 years old -- would grab 8 percent of the 260,000 units forecast by BenQ to be sold in Taiwan this year.

LCD-TV sales could grow more than 50 percent to 400,000 units next year, as falling prices stimulate demand, according to the company's projections.

BenQ, however, declined to directly comment on the impact of Sony Corp's launch of the low-priced "Bravia" series around the world in September, as the Japanese firm attempts to regain its past market leadership.

A 32-inch Bravia LCD-TV costs NT$59,900, approaching the price charged by certain local brands.

"We are monitoring the impact of Sony's strategy," said Michael Lin (林世華), a senior marketing manager at BenQ.

BenQ is targeting a different group of consumers, he said. "Sony buyers tend to be elderly people with no desire to learn new gadgets, while most BenQ users are early tech-adopters," Lin said.

Following in BenQ's steps, local electronics makers, including motherboard maker Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦) and computer maker Acer Inc, are planning to tap into the fast-growing slim-screen TV market soon.

Sales of LCD-TVs are expected to nearly triple to 23 million units around the world this year, and to rise to 35 million units next year, according to the forecasts of market researcher DisplaySearch.

"We plan to roll out our first LCD-TV in Taiwan by the end of this year, and then expand to other Asian markets later," said Stephanie Su (蘇詩涵), a public relations official at Asustek.

Su declined to reveal details about the new business, but said Asustek would not target the low-priced market.

If the company moves ahead with its plans, it will be the latest move for Asustek in diversifying into the consumer electronics sector, after it started selling its own-brand mobile phones in late 2003.

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