Thu, Jun 07, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Amtran eyes flat-panel TV market

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A new manufacturer hoped to make a splash in the competitive flat-panel TV market by unveiling its first series of products in Taiwan yesterday.

Amtran Technology Co (瑞軒科技), a top-three flat-panel TV brand in North America, is attempting to replicate its success in the US by bringing its line of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) and plasma TVs to Taiwan.

"We have been busy gaining a foothold in the US market for the past two years and now it's time to bring it back to Taiwan," said Johnny Huang (黃世斌), sales director at Amtran, which is showcasing its products at a private suite in Xinyi District, coinciding with the Computex trade fair.

Amtran, which began as a contract maker for LCD monitors and TVs, ventured into the brand business with its "Vizio" TVs in North America in early 2005.

Unfazed by the local competitive flat-panel TV market, the company introduced 32-inch, 37-inch, 42-inch and 47-inch LCD models as well as 50-inch and 60-inch plasma displays.

It expects its competitively priced models will give it an advantage and projects sales of up to 1,000 units a month starting in August, Huang said.

Market researcher DisplaySearch said that Vizio's North American flat-panel TV unit share surged from 5 percent in the fourth quarter last year to 10 percent in the first quarter of this year, rising to No. 3 maker from No. 9 in the fourth quarter last year.

DisplaySearch attributed this rise to Vizio's strength in the rapidly growing warehouse club channel along with expansion into new channels through Wal-Mart and Sears.

Amtran expects to ship more than 2.6 million units of flat-panel TVs by the end of the year, a more than three-fold increase from 700,000 units last year, company president and CEO Alpha Wu (吳春發) said.

Amtran, whose contract manufacturing business only accounts for 25 percent of total sales, is set to launch Vizio TVs in other markets in Southeast Asia, central and southern America later this year, and in Europe and China next year, Huang said.

Other Taiwanese makers were also displaying their latest flat panels at Computex.

Teco Electric & Machinery Co (東元電機), the nation's leading maker of consumer electronics and industrial motors, is showcasing a 46-inch model with built-in MPEG4 H.264 video compression.

A 42-inch full HD LCD TV from Ya Hsin Industrial Co (雅新實業), one of the nation's leading printed circuit board makers, is also on display.

Separately, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA, 外貿協會) yesterday said Taiwanese suppliers had received orders worth US$120 million at a separate procurement event held for the first time in conjunction with Computex.

Digital photo frames, global positioning system devices, as well as digital cameras were the top choices by 44 firms from 28 countries, TAITRA said in a statement.

Other consumer electronics including smartphones and MP3 players were also in high demand.

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