DisplaySearch: Sony number one in LCD TVs

Sony leaped to first place from fourth place in the LCD-TV market in the fourth quarter, knocking rival Sharp off the top spot for the first time ever.

Sony leapt to first place from fourth 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 researchers at DisplaySearch.

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

Sony has been aggressively slashing the 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 said.

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

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

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

Sales overall rose more than expected during the fourth quarter last year, with shipments rising 58 per cent to a record 8.6 million units, DisplaySearch said. Shipments rose 141 per cent year-on-year to 21.2 million units in 2005.

The market researcher also significantly upgraded its outlook for 2006 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 reduce prices.

For example, during the fourth quarter alone, the average selling price for a 32-inch model dropped 16 per cent from the previous quarter, DisplaySearch said.

Tough market competition among sellers, in addition to continued price reductions, could cause see sales almost double to 42 million units this year, DisplaySearch said. The researcher had previously forecast overall sales at 37.7 million units.

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