03.01.2006 12:00 AM
LCD: Sony Sales Carve Out a Bravia New World
Sony was the largest supplier of LCD TV units worldwide in Q4 2005, according to market research firm DisplaySearch, and now the firm hopes its brand name still carries enough gravitas to translate into consumer sales. Judging from the last few months -- so far, so good, especially for its new Bravia series.

Sony has been in a defensive position for the past few years after it apparently allowed its flat-panel production to lag (in sharp contrast to its competitors) while it stubbornly continued to concentrate on the bulkier CRT HD and ET units.

But in its latest forecast, DisplaySearch finds Sony jumped from fourth place to the top spot in both LCD shipments and revenue sales, aided by what is now widely perceived as a successful launch of its Bravia line of LCDs that the company is manufacturing in a joint venture with brand competitor Samsung.

DisplaySearch said Sony had a 14.6 percent share of unit sales in the last quarter of 2005 that comes as the typical consumer's proclivity for a flat and larger screen begins to dominate the market. Philips (and the Magnavox brand) kept the runner-up position in LCD volume sales with 14 percent. Former LCD leader Sharp slid to third place, followed by Samsung and LG Electronics in Q4.

Meanwhile, LCD shipments rose more than 140 percent to 21.2 million units in 2005. Total sales revenue was $25.4 billion, said DisplaySearch.

The good news for Sony is no big surprise: It already revised its initial (inaccurate) prediction that it would actually suffer a quarterly loss for the first time in a decade to, instead, post an 18 percent profit in Q4 (HD Notebook, Feb. 1, 2006). Company profits rose to $1.46 billion in the last quarter, according to published reports. Yet as we reported a month ago, some analysts have warned that Sony's short-term rebound could be fleeting due to stiff LCD competition.

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