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GE Phone Brand In Limbo

11/13/2008 11:55:00 AM Eastern

Indianapolis — Thomson’s decision to exit the cordless phone business has left the popular GE brand without a home.

A spokesperson for GE would not comment on any negotiations for a potential replacement for Thomson.

“GE will continue to work with Thomson through the completion of their exit from the market per the terms of our agreement,” the spokesperson said.

One brand that will not be making a cordless comeback is RCA, which Thomson used to sell communications products targeted at small businesses.

“We have stopped sales of RCA phones too, and we have not identified a strong request for brand continuity that would push us to license the RCA brand,” said a Thomson spokesperson.

Thomson has suffered declines in its telephone business of 18 percent year on year.

Thomson’s retreat comes on the heels of another year of steep loses for the retail telephony market. According to The NPD Group’s point-of-sale data, unit sales of cordless phones have dropped 20 percent year over year, while dollar sales have fallen 16 percent.

Through September, Thomson ranked fifth in unit and dollar sales in the category.

“It’s been a challenging market and a shrinking category as we continue to see more consumers opt for a cell phone as their primary phone,” said Ross Rubin, industry analysis director, NPD.

While Thomson had pushed through a number of new technologies, including last year’s launch of a combination phone and digital photo frame, “the division may have been difficult to sustain at a parent company that was clearly not interested in staying in consumer electronics,” Rubin said.

The loss of Thomson, and its GE-branded phones, positions the company’s remaining rivals to pick up share, Rubin said, but “over the long term, major brands need to consider how viable the category is going to be particularly as there doesn’t appear to be a successor to DECT” to spur upgrades.

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