Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Sony seeks top spot in LCD TV market


Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony Corp aims to recoup its top position in Taiwan's rapidly-growing television market this year by launching more and bigger-sized liquid-crystal-display (LCD) TVs, a company official said yesterday.

The Japanese TV brand regained the leading position in the mainstream 32-inch size segment in Taiwan in December last year, with the help of its lower-priced "Bravia" sub-brand last year.

"The Bravia series is very successful. We have been trying to catch up with consumer demand since we launched the brand," said Hiroyuki Oda, president of Sony's consumer electronics division in Taiwan.

"We hope the growth momentum will carry into this year," Oda said. "We hope to take the number one position this year," he said.

Oda also said Sony aims for double-digit growth in sales for his division this year from last year.

However, he declined to give detailed numbers.

Sony lost its top position in the nation's LCD TV market to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, which sell consumer electronics products under the Panasonic brand, in 2004 and 2003.

But the company was on target last quarter globally, nabbing around a 15 percent share of the market.

Sony overtook Sharp Corp to become the world's biggest LCD TV brand due to the successful launch of the Bravia series and optimized panel capacity through S-LCD Corp, its TFT-LCD joint venture with Samsung, according to a DisplaySearch report released yesterday

Sony's progress was also helped by strong demand for large-sized LCD TVs, fueled by an almost 50 percent drop in prices year-on-year, the market researcher said.

In the third quarter of last year, Sony was ranked No.4 with a market share of less than 9 percent, it added.

DisplaySearch expects sales of LCD TVs to more then double to 42 million units around the globe this year, from 19 million last year.

"We believe the growth will also be rapid in Taiwan," Oda said.

Oda said LCD TV sales are expected to reach as high as 500,000 units this year, from around 300,000 units last year, with LCD TV sales accounting for 50 percent of total TV sales.

"The trend is clear that LCD TVs are taking over from traditional CRT [cathode-ray-tube] TVs," Oda said.

He said more consumers will now consider buying the slim-screen TVs as prices are stabilizing after plunging in the second half of last year.

Based on the optimistic outlook, Sony plans to introduce more models with large-sized screens in the Taiwanese market, Oda said.

He declined to comment on whether Sony would increase its purchases of LCD panels from local manufacturers -- including AU Optronics Corp (友達光電) -- this year amid supply constraints at S-LCD.

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