Real interesting article at The Wall Street Journal
on the big upcoming wave of TV manufacturer consolidation. Some excerpts:TV Makers Confront a Shakeout
Big Manufacturers Start to Squeeze Smaller Rivals as Sales, Prices Shrink
The explosive growth in flat-panel television sets in recent years attracted a slew of companies into the TV market. But as sales slow and prices now decline sharply, larger manufacturers such as Sony Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. are starting to squeeze out smaller rivals.
With world-wide television revenue forecast to fall 18% this year, television makers are struggling with a slowdown in consumer spending. But the recession could deal a more punishing blow to several discount or second-tier brands lacking the financial clout of larger manufacturers.
Industry executives expect only a handful of companies -- Sony, Samsung, Panasonic Corp., Sharp Co., LG Electronics Co. and Toshiba Corp.
-- to survive the latest downturn. The others, they say, may be forced to either pull out of the TV business, or join forces with a surviving entity.
Aggressive pricing from more established TV makers is eating into the price advantage of discount brands like Vizio Inc. and Westinghouse Digital Electronics LLC which took the market by storm several years ago with television sets significantly cheaper than established brands.
Second-tier Japanese brands such as Hitachi Corp. and Pioneer Corp., struggling to compete on price and selection, are losing valuable floor space at stores.
...The top five makers of plasma and LCD television sets accounted for 60% of all flat-panel TV sets sold in the third quarter of 2008, up from 53% in the year-earlier period, according to research firm DisplaySearch. They are expected to garner an even bigger share of total sales in fourth-quarter data because of discounting during the holiday sales period...
...The shrinking price gaps are leading consumers such as Nathan Walter to rethink their purchases. Since last month, Mr. Walter, an information-technology professional in Santa Barbara, Calif., has been looking for a 42-inch LCD flat panel TV to replace his 32-inch model.
Looking online, as well as in stores such as Best Buy and Sears, Mr. Walter says he has seen the top-tier brands, Samsung, Panasonic and Sony, offer sales with $300-to-$400 discounts, bringing them closer in price to brands such as Vizio...
...Smaller TV makers such as Hitachi and Pioneer -- early leaders in the plasma-TV market -- are losing market share and retail space, especially in North America. As rival LCD technology began to become more popular, Hitachi and Pioneer failed to sell enough TV sets to drive down costs and didn't introduce a wide-enough selection of television sizes and models...
...Last year, Pioneer said it would stop making its own plasma display panels, opting to buy panels from Panasonic. It will soon introduce LCD television sets using panels bought from rival Sharp. Hitachi also reached an agreement to procure part of its panel production from Panasonic...
Full article at: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/...DQyMDA1Wj.html.