Sun, Feb 22, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Vizio Inc surpasses Sony for No. 2 US flat-panel TV slot

AGENCIES , TOKYO

Sony Corp was overtaken by Vizio Inc in the US flat-panel television market in the fourth quarter as consumers became more price-conscious amid the global recession, an industry researcher said.

Vizio was founded by William Wang in 2002 and has been partly owned by Taiwanese flat-panel TV maker Amtran Technology Co (瑞軒) since early 2005 in a bid to tap into the brand business in North America.

Vizio, based in Irvine, California, shipped 14.3 percent of the country*s flat-panel TVs in the three months ended Dec. 31, passing Sony to win the second-largest share behind Samsung Electronics Co, ISuppli Corp said in a report dated Feb. 19. The 〝Tokyo-〝〝based maker of Bravia liquid-crystal-display (LCD) TVs ranked third with 13.5 percent.

※This is an indication that in the present tough economic climate, consumers are becoming less brand conscious,§ Riddhi Patel, an analyst at the El Segundo, California-based industry researcher, wrote in the report.

Consumers give more consideration to picture quality and price, ※rather than seeking models with a lot of extra features,§ Patel said.

After taking the top spot in the US TV market for the first three months of last year, Vizio tied with Sony in the second quarter and slipped to third place in the following period, Isuppli said. Recessions in Europe, Japan and the US have dampened consumer spending, forcing Sony, Panasonic Corp and Sharp Corp to forecast losses this fiscal year.

Global revenue from LCD TVs will drop 16 percent this year to US$64 billion, the first decline in the industry*s history, researcher DisplaySearch LLC said.

Meanwhile, Japan*s Sharp Corp plans to produce LCD panels in China through a partnership with a major Chinese electronics manufacturer, the Nikkei Shimbun daily reported yesterday.

Sharp, the fifth-largest LCD panel producer, hopes to reach a deal with China*s SVA Group this spring, the business daily said.

The Japanese firm has said it expects its first-ever operating loss this year and will cut 1,500 jobs as revenues from high-end televisions plummet.

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