Sony Corp. aims to increase its European market share in flat LCD TVs to 20 percent this year after failing to meet demand in late 2005, its European president said.
The Japanese firm climbed to the global No. 1 position in liquid crystal display TVs in the fourth quarter from being No. 4 in the third quarter, according to market research from DisplaySearch. Sales surged 164 percent as a result of its new Bravia models.
Sony says it increased its market share in Europe to around 14 percent from well below 10 percent, but is still lagging behind Samsung and Philips Electronics, which it says is a result of not being able to fulfill orders. "We still have huge back-orders from December," Fujio Nishida said. "It was perhaps still one-third (of orders)," he said.
"This year we expect a 60 to 70 percent increase for the LCD market in Europe. We will more than double (sales) and increase the (market) share to over 20 percent," Nishida said. Sony introduced the Bravia brand with the first models fitted with LCD panels from its own joint venture plant with Samsung. Sony previously bought LCD panels from external suppliers.
This meant Sony did not have sufficient access to high quality displays, but also that retailers did not support its products, Nishida added.
"A salesman can make up a story that Sony's panel was coming from Samsung or Sharp, so you don't have to pay 20 percent more, even though we do a lot of enhancement technology on top of the panel. Now we have both, panel and those technologies, which makes it a real Sony TV. That's the message. Now it's a real Sony and has people coming back to us," he said.
Booming demand for Bravia and LCD TVs from other vendors will be driven by sharply falling retail prices. LCD TVs will become 20 percent to 25 percent cheaper this year and another 20 percent next year, Nishida reckons.
Sony expects that by 2008 around 20 percent of European households will have a high definition (HD) TV set, rising to 50 percent by 2010.
"That's very quick penetration. When you look at color TV, broadcasts started in 1967. It took 12 years to the end of 1979 to get 50 percent of households to have color TV. It will only take 5 years after the introduction of HD TV broadcasts to reach 50 percent of penetration of HD households," he said. (Reuters)
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