By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The TV display kingpins in shelf share continued to hold their positions in October as Samsung led brands in LCD TV placements, while Panasonic and Sony continued to ride atop the plasma TV and rear-projection categories, respectively, according to an October shelf-share scorecard from Current Analysis West, a company of The NPD Group.
Despite the results, challengers continued to apply pressure below them throughout the month, as evidenced by Sony's big shelf gains in LCD TV, where it attained a 1.6 percentage point increase from its September numbers, Current Analysis West said.
The gains were due primarily to the launch of nine new products in the channel, three of which saw placement with top mass merchants, according to the report.
As a result, Sony is neck-and-neck with rival Samsung for top shelf-share honors, trailing by only 0.9 percentage points.
"This marks the closest that Sony has been to Samsung since losing the shelf-share lead in April 2007," noted Sang Tang, Current Analysis West HDTV research analyst.
A trend to emerge in October among some Tier 1 brands was the release of more new LCD TV products in the mass-merchant and warehouse club channels in the period.
"Both channels, and particularly the club store channel, are playing a more influential role in the HDTV market," stated Tang.
In the plasma TV category a new brand entered the market during October, bringing significant shelf-share presence, as the Wal-Mart exclusive iLO brand made its debut in the plasma retail category with 4 percent shelf share.
"Under normal circumstances, any company grabbing 4 percent shelf share would be an instant cause for concern in the market. However, the mass-retailer-placed unit is a minor threat to the increasingly high-end focus of plasma," Tang observed.
Following iLO in new plasma activity was Pioneer, which increased its shelf share by 1.6 percentage points, Current Analysis West said.
The increase boosted the high-end-focused company to its highest shelf share in the past year at 12 percent. Pioneer's increase came on the heels of the retail release of the company's highly anticipated Kuro series of plasmas.
The growth of 1080p plasma models continued during October in the 50-inch size space. Of the channel's eight new releases, half of them featured 1080p resolution.
In rear-projection TV, Samsung and RCA made the biggest shelf-share gains in October 2007, increasing their shelf share by 1.6 and 1.5 percentage points, respectively, Current Analysis West said.
"Interestingly enough, these gains were made despite the lack of increased placements or product releases," stated Tang. "Samsung, for instance, saw its rear-projection placements decrease from 51 to 41, while RCA maintained three placements. Furthermore, both companies maintained the same retailer placements from their September figures — Samsung had eight, while RCA had three."
Tang attributed the anomaly to a decrease in the number of SKUs in the channel. In August and September, total SKUs for the channel were 91 and 90, respectively. In October, there were 86 total SKUs.
"Particularly illustrative of this decline is the fact that there was only one new product, Sony's KDS-50AL120, that entered the channel during the month," stated Tang. "Given this predicament, those with a heavy investment in RPTV — namely JVC with its LCoS technology, and Texas Instruments with DLP — need to shift their focus to sub-$1,000 price points more than ever."
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