iSuppli: Samsung leads LCD TV Sales in 4Q

Analysis of the LCD TV market by electronics analyst firm iSuppli confirms earlier findings that established brands have vaulted ahead of upstart Vizio, making a return to the top of the charts in the fourth quarter.

But two analysts' firms have differing opinions on the breakdown. In the results of a survey from DisplaySearch, Sony took number one at 12.8%, while Samsung followed closely behind at 12.3%. iSuppli's data showed a more substantial lead for Samsung at 14.2%, followed by Sony at 12.5%.

As in the previous survey, Sony made the biggest move upward, from fourth to second. Vizio, which was iSuppli's #1 in the third quarter, fell to third in the fourth quarter with a 12.4% market share.

Vizio's combination of low pricing in relation to its competitors and a solid supply channel rocketed it from virtual unknown to the top of the charts last year. However, the established brands responded quickly during the holidays, bringing their prices down to more competitive levels.

Much of this was apparently accomplished without detrimental effects to either Sony's or Samsung's bottom line. Their bills of materials were likely the same as Vizio's, so their sales margins were higher. But lower margins were offset by much higher Q4 sales.

"Consumers in the television industry are not as brand conscious as they once were, as evidenced by the popularity of Vizio," television analyst Riddhi Patel said. "However, when the difference in pricing between a value-brand television and a premium-brand set is within the 10 percent range, consumers often will go for the premium brand."

Both iSuppli's and DisplaySearch's surveys agreed that Vizio's strongest point in the market is at the 37-inch size, where it leads in both, although in iSuppli it is also #1 at 32 and 42 inches as well.

Panasonic continues to dominate in plasma, gaining a 37% share, followed by Samsung with 19.7%. Both saw increases in share during the last quarter, and rankings for the rest of the top seven providers remained unchanged for iSuppli as for DisplaySearch.

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