Sony Tops LCD TV Market

Sony leapt to first place from fourth place in the LCD-TV market during the final three months of last year, knocking rival Sharp off the top spot for the first time ever, according to market researcher DisplaySearch.

In what may mark signs of a revival for Sony, the company's Bravia series of LCD-TVs led it to the first place spot in the fourth quarter of last year in both units and revenue, along with its LCD panel capacity from its TFT-LCD panel joint venture with Samsung Electronics, DisplaySearch said.

Sony has been aggressively slashing prices of its Bravia series, and pumped up its marketing in the final months of last year to grab a bigger share of the market. Its strong name brand was the biggest boost, a DisplaySearch analyst says.

Sony's share of unit sales surged to 15 percent of the overall market from just 9 percent during the third quarter, mainly due to sales of LCD-TVs with larger size screens, the market researcher says. In terms of sales, Sony reached a 19 percent share of market revenue in the fourth quarter, up from 13 percent in the previous quarter.

Falling Behind

Sharp, which had been number one in both unit shipments and revenue globally since the LCD-TV market started, dropped to third place in the fourth quarter behind Sony and Philips/Magnavox, DisplaySearch says. The company's unit share tumbled to 14 percent from 18 percent in the third quarter.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics, including Magnavox, kept its second place ranking as its unit share dropped to 14 percent in the fourth quarter from 15 percent previously.

Sales of LCD-TVs overall rose more than expected during the fourth quarter last year, with shipments rising 58 percent to a record 8.6 million units, DisplaySearch says. LCD-TV shipments rose 141 percent year on year to 21.2 million units for all of 2005.

The market researcher also significantly upgraded its outlook for 2006 LCD-TV sales due to the recent success of larger sized LCD-TVs on world markets, despite higher prices than competing technologies, in addition to new production facilities coming online that should help lead to reduced prices for end users.

For example, during the fourth quarter alone, the average selling price for a 32-inch LCD-TV dropped 16 percent from the previous quarter to $1493, DisplaySearch says.

Tough market competition among LCD-TV sellers, in addition to continued price reductions could cause LCD-TV sales to nearly double to 42 million units this year, DisplaySearch says. The researcher had previously forecast overall sales at 37.7 million units.

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