Is a Narrower Focus the Key to Survival for Some TV Manufacturers?

By |

Is a Narrower Focus the Key to Survival for Some TV Manufacturers?


TV-manufacturers-survive.jpgIt's not easy to make a buck in the TV business these days. If your name is Samsung, Vizio, or LG, the endeavor is at least worth the effort. Profits may not be soaring, but sales are strong. For everyone else, the road has gotten a lot rockier. Needless to say, the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 caused a number of problems for Japanese TV makers like Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba, but the issue goes deeper. As the TV market grows more commoditized and supply far outweighs demand, prices continue to plummet, and profit margins deteriorate--which is especially difficult for those companies that have historically charged higher prices. Sony's TV division has experienced eight straight years of losses. Hitachi has announced that it will end its TV production in Japan, planning instead to outsource most operations. During the past year, Samsung overtook Panasonic as the leader in plasma sales.

Additional Resources
• Read more original content in our Feature News Stories section.
• See similar stories in our Plasma HDTV News section.
• Lear more in our LED HDTV News section.
• Explore reviews of LED HDTVs and Plasma HDTVs in our review section.

The current state of the industry has forced TV manufacturers to do some serious soul-searching. Some have concluded that, to survive, they might just need to narrow their focus. Instead of trying to compete with the likes of LG and Samsung across every TV type, size, and price point, companies like Sharp and Mitsubishi are trying to gain a stronghold in a specific category. At last year's CES, Sharp kicked off its "Making Bigger Better" campaign, placing its primary focus on the large-screen flat-panel market. Yes, the company still makes smaller LCD TVs, but most of its marketing efforts are aimed at the larger screen sizes. The company has also targeted the luxury market by licensing Pioneer's Elite brand and introducing some well-reviewed high-end panels, currently only available in 60- and 70-inch sizes. This approach appears to be working for Sharp, as the company has exceeded its U.S. sales forecast in the large-screen category. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal article, "Sharp had previously aimed to sell at least one million TVs 60-inches or larger in size in the U.S. and Canada combined in the year ending March 2012, but sales have been stronger than forecast and it now expects to achieve that target sales figure in the U.S. alone." The article goes on to state that Sharp holds nearly 80 percent of the U.S. market for TVs sized 60 inches or larger (up from 40 percent a year ago). We recently named the LC-70LE732U as the best LED/LCD HDTV of 2011, precisely because of its game-changing price in the large-screen category.

Mitsubishi has narrowed its focus even more drastically. In early 2011, the company announced that it would end its production of flat-panel TVs altogether, opting instead to become the last man standing in the rear-pro TV category (it continues to offer front projectors, too). Like Sharp, Mitsubishi has set its sights on the large-screen category, limiting its TVs to DLP and LaserVue rear-pros sized 73 inches and above. The top-shelf WD-92840 boasts a 92-inch screen size and costs under $5,000--a combination you won't find in the flat-panel category. Mitsubishi is especially targeting fans of 3D who want a very large yet very bright TV. Whether this focused approach will pay off for Mitsubishi remains to be seen. I haven't seen recent sales or profit numbers, but I suspect that Sharp's successes in the large-screen category could be making life difficult for Mitsubishi.

Finally, there's Sony, which appears to be in the midst of its soul-searching process. A few months back, the company presented a dismal earnings report that forecasted a $1.2 billion loss. It was forced to lower its annual sales forecast for TVs and promised that some major restructuring was going to occur in its TV division. Shortly thereafter, we got some hints about that restructuring, which will include separating its TV operations into three business: LCD TVs, outsourcing, and next-generation TVs. Just last week, the report came out that Sony will sell its nearly 50 percent stake in the LCD joint venture it had with Samsung for $940 million. Sir Howard Stringer has stated that the company is working on a "new kind of TV set" that will differentiate Sony and command a premium pice. Does that mean that Sony has decided to focus more specifically on the luxury market and completely outsource its lower-priced offerings? Pioneer already learned the hard way with KURO that a "luxury" flat-panel TV can't succeed on picture quality alone; there has to be something more. Something revolutionary. Something that many people expect to come from Apple in the near future. Can Sony beat them to the punch? Last week, I received an invitation from Sony to celebrate the marriage of "Television & Internet" at the Bellagio Wedding Chapel during CES 2012. Is this just a way to promote Sony's current lineup of networkable BRAVIA TVs, or will we also get a glimpse at Sony's future TV focus? We'll keep you posted.

Additional Resources
• Read more original content in our Feature News Stories section.
• See similar stories in our Plasma HDTV News section.
• Lear more in our LED HDTV News section.
• Explore reviews of LED HDTVs and Plasma HDTVs in our review section.


  • Comment on this article

Post a Comment
comments powered by Disqus

Latest Feature News Stories

Nov 22
HomeTheaterReview's 2018 Holiday AV Gift Guide Whether you're looking for a little somethin-somethin to put under your own tree, or an AV gift for that someone special in your life, these are some of our favorites.
HomeTheaterReview's 2018 Holiday AV Gift Guide

Nov 22
Making Predictions on 4K UHD TV Pricing for the 2018 Holidays The stretch of the calendar between Black Friday and Super Bowl Sunday typically represents prime TV-buying time. So, what are prices looking like this year? Jeff Berman breaks down the analysis and predictions.
Making Predictions on 4K UHD TV Pricing for the 2018 Holidays

Nov 19
HomeTheaterReview's Wireless Over-Ear Headphone Buyer's Guide Whether you're looking for unbeatable noise cancelation, best-in-class sonic performance, or a solid mix of performance, style, and comfort, Jerry Del Colliano sorts through the current crop of circumaural wireless headphones to help you pick the right fit for you.
HomeTheaterReview's Wireless Over-Ear Headphone Buyer's Guide

Nov 05
HomeTheaterReview's 4K/Ultra HD TV Buyer's Guide Having a hard time picking a new TV from this year's crop of top contenders? Our resident video expert Andrew Robinson has tested them all, and is here to help you wade through the competition.
HomeTheaterReview's 4K/Ultra HD TV Buyer's Guide

Nov 05
Explaining Value Ratings In HomeTheaterReview.com Reviews Star ratings. Reviewers hate giving them. Readers love arguing about them. But how do we actually determine what number of stars to hang on a product in the "Value" category?
Explaining Value Ratings In HomeTheaterReview.com Reviews