NewYork- LG Electronics highlighted its recent success in the U.S. market and unveiled a 47-inch 1,080p and 60-inch plasma HDTV during its summer line show last Thursday night Madame Tussauds' Wax Museum in Times Square, here.
The company also confirmed a forthcoming price move on its 42W-inch LCD TVs that will put them at parity with LG's comparably sized plasma displays.
Michael Ahn,LG’s North American CEO, said since LG's official brand launch in 2003 its consumer awareness has gone from 33 percent in 2004 to 65 percent in 2005 demonstrating the company's successful "Life's Good" ad campaign and its premium brand positioning.
Ahn said LG is experiencing growth across all divisions and in the first half of 2006 brand revenues grew by 11 percent compared to the first half of last year. In 2005, LG revenues in North America were up 17 percent, totaling $9 billion.
The company reported that it remains the market-share leader in U.S. and global CDMA-handset sales, based on IDC statistics, and has been named the fastest growing mobile phone brand in North America by Strategy Analytics.
Bob Perry, LG's sales VP for CE, noted that electronics sales for the company in the U.S. are up 31 percent so far in 2006 and "while we are pleased, the second half should be better. We should exceed our goals."
Reasons cited by Perry for this growth were varied. He echoed Ahn's comment about "premium brand positioning" for the LG brand, along with LG being a vertically-integrated manufacturer. When asked if the demand for flat panel screens in the fall may not meet consumer demand, Perry noted, "If we have planned our business with our retailer partners correctly, we have no fear. Last fall when many manufacturers struggled with shortages we were able to ship 125 percent of what we planned."
Perry also mentioned that LG's investment in its dealer support team, from training to promotions, is the "best in the business" and the company's values of "honesty, openness and the willingness to do the right thing" guides their retailer relationships.
In terms of the industry, Perry sees strong sales for the remainder of the year and exceptionally strong flat-panel sales.
"Consumers are getting more and more used to flat screens. This is just the beginning." To make his point Perry noted that consumers are now moving towards 50-inch and 60-inch flat-panel displays. During the first half, Perry said the industry saw a shift in pricing as LCD HDTVs began approaching plasmas in price, and noted that LG's 42W-inch LCD panels would reach price parity with its 42W-inch plasma displays "within the next few weeks."
With "higher efficiency" in LCD manufacturing, he noted, "this is just the beginning."
The LG executive projected annual manufacturer shipments in the U.S of color TV should be in the 26 million to 28 million range with "13 million in plasma and LCD, half of the TV business."
Perry also confirmed a story, reported on TWICE.com, that LG has no plans to introduce a combination HD DVD/Blu-ray deck in the U.S. this year and that while LG will debut a Blu-ray deck in Korea later this year, there are no plans for a U.S. introduction this year. And while he said, "We still strongly support the Blu-ray format," Perry also noted, "we must still meet the needs of the market."
LG also unveiled more LCD and plasma TVs at the event. The LCD is a 47-inch digital cable ready unit (model 47LB1DA) which features progressive-scan and full high-definition 1,920 by 1,080p display format. The unit features LG's fifth-generation VSB chipset, is equipped with ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuners, and is CableCard compatible.
Other features include TV Guide On-Screen electronic program guide, multiple HD inputs, including two HDMI inputs with HDCP, and a swivel stand. The unit is also VESA compatible for convenient installation. The 47LB1DA is planned for August introduction with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $3,999. Another new LCD HDTV – 26-inch model 26LC2D with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,049 – also features the fifth-generation VSB circuitry and an HDMI/HDCP input.
In the plasma market, LG introduced a 60-inch Plasma HDTV (model 60PC1D). This large-screen unit incorporates the same design as the previously released 50PC1DRA. This model also uses the latest XD Engine and features a 7,000:1 contrast ratio, LG said. Built-in ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuners (with LG’s fifth-generation VSB digital TV reception chipset) and two HDMI inputs as well as other connectivity options. The 60PC1D is expected to be available in September at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $5,899.
In cellular, the company reported its U.S. CDMA share grew to 27.3 percent in 2005, representing almost 19 million units, and the company moved up to the number four spot in GSM handset sales after entering the U.S. GSM market only two years ago.
To maintain is momentum, LG announced that its slider Chocolate phone would be launched by Verizon in early August as a Verizon exclusive with U.S.-only features. The launch follows Chocolate launches in Europe and Asia. Looking like a chocolate bar when closed, Chocolate features glowing, touch-sensitive keypad, high-speed CDMA 1x EV-DO wireless data, music and video player, support for Verizon’s over-the-air music-download service, 1.3-megapixel camera/camcorder, Bluetooth, and microSD memory-card slot. Pricing was unavailable.
On the white goods side, digital appliances VP John Herrington recapped LG's stunning four-year trajectory in the U.S. market. LG entered the majaps business here in 2002 with one top mount refrigerator, one front load washer, and no market share. Today, driven by style and technological innovations,the company is represented in over 5,000 retail outlets, including national accounts Best Buy and The Home Depot, and has expanded its assortment to encompass the entire kitchen.
Ahn noted that LG now stands as the third-largest appliance manufacture in the world, behind only Whirlpool and Electrolux.