Wed, Feb 21, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Sharp touts large TVs to drive earnings in Japan

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Sharp Corp, Japan's largest maker of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) televisions, said it would start selling 17 new Aquos models in the country from March 10, focusing on large, high-definition sets to drive earnings.

The company will offer five new sets with screens measuring up to 65 inches (165cm), Sharp said yesterday at a news conference.

Unit prices start at ¥120,000 (US$1,000) for a 20-inch TV, while the largest model retails for ¥1 million, the company said.

"We are increasingly focusing on large-screen models," Mikio Katayama, who is in charge of Osaka-based Sharp's audio-visual and LCD business, told reporters. Monthly production of the five largest models will be between 1,000 and 5,000 units each, the company said.

The company is focusing on large, high-definition televisions to compete against rivals such as Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Inc, the world's largest maker of LCDs. Sharp plans to spend ¥200 billion in the year starting April to triple output of LCD panels for use in flat-panel televisions.

Sony Corp, the second-largest consumer electronics maker in the world, overtook rival Sharp and Samsung to secure the top spot in the global LCD television market for the first time last year, according to market researcher NPD Group Inc.

Tokyo-based Sony had a 16 percent share of LCD TV revenue, New York-based NPD Group said in a press release on Feb 13. Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung took second with 15 percent, while Osaka-based Sharp slipped to third with 11.5 percent.

The three biggest LCD makers are expanding production to lower unit costs and stay ahead of price declines that are prompting more consumers to replace bulkier conventional TVs with flat-panel models.

Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers have benefited from a weaker yen that increased the value of sales in the US and Europe last year. Sony last month posted record earnings in its consumer electronics division, partly on sales of flat-panel televisions.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, the world's largest maker of consumer electronics, retained the biggest share of the plasma television market with 29 percent, ahead of Seoul-based LG Electronics Inc with 16 percent and Samsung at 14 percent, NPD said.

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