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Sony Reorganizes to Boost Output of Flat-Panel TVs
Aug 28, 2003
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Consumer electronics maker Sony Corp. said that it has reorganized its Japanese factories to meet sharply rising demand for flat-panel television sets.

Sony, which falls behind Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Sharp Corp., and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. in the flat-panel TV market, also said it would release 12 new flat-panel models later this year to increase its presence.

"We will launch a major offensive (against rivals) toward the end of this year. We want to capture a 30-percent share in the Japanese flat-screen TV market by sales value," Tsutomu Niimura, Sony executive vice president said at a news conference.

Sony had a 20-25 percent share by value last year, it said.

The flat-panel TV market in Japan was worth 234 billion yen (U.S. $1.99 billion) in the 2002/03 year, according to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA).

Sony's move comes as competitors increase operations in a race to dominate a market with growth prospects not seen since the move to color TVs from black-and-white sets.

Global shipments of flat-panel TVs are expected to reach 4 million units this business year to March 31 and 13.9 million in 2005/06 when they will account for about 10 percent of total TV shipments, according to Matsushita.

Just last week, Matsushita, the world's second-largest consumer electronics maker, said it aimed to double its share of the global flat-panel TV market, which combines plasma display and liquid crystal display (LCD) sets, by 2005/06.

Matsushita, maker of Panasonic products, had a 16 percent global market share in 2002/03 ended March by unit sales, but wants 30 percent within 3 years.

Sony had a global market share below 10 percent by unit in 2002/03, but aims to increase this by expanding its flat-panel TV line-up to 27 models this year from seven last year, Niimura said.

Sony has three domestic TV plants, which have been mainly manufacturing cathode-ray tube (CRT) TVs and their components. But after the realignment, the Ichinomiya plant in Aichi prefecture, central Japan, will focus on making flat-panel TVs. (Reuters)

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