Samsung, Vizio, Sony Led Holiday Sales

The good news for Sony in the most recent holiday sales season (late 2008) is that they remained firmly in the top three when it comes to selling flat-panel TVs. The bad news for Sony is that it used to be in the top two.

The still-new-enough-to-be-an-upstart Vizio brand surpassed Sony in the all-important final quarter of 2008 and Vizio now threatens to take the lead away from Samsung for flat-panel (mostly HD TV sales in North America, according to iSuppli, a researcher and consultancy).

The Vizio moniker, whose Taiwan-made flat panels have become ubiquitous in recent years in North American big-box outlets such as Costco, Walmart, and Best Buy, captured more than 14 percent share of all flat-panel shipments in the fourth quarter, helped by an economic recession that led consumers to lower HD price points. Sony was close behind at 13.5 percent. Flat-panel leader Samsung held onto a 20 percent share.

Still, iSuppli said overall consumer spending on "discretionary product" like LCD HD sets fell in the final quarter compared to previous fourth quarters, and that LCD HD growth is slowing. (See next item.)