By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
High-value flat-panel TV supplier Vizio is charging into 2007 with new LCD and plasma lines, including the company's first 1,080p offerings, shooting for 10 percent market share by the end of the year.
Continuing to distribute primarily through warehouse clubs Costco and Sam's Club, the company, which recently had its name formally changed from V, Inc., has slowly expanded into Circuit City and is expected to name another major national retail partner shortly.
The company's largest investor — an unnamed Taiwanese manufacturing concern — is also its primary manufacturing partner, although rapidly escalating demand encouraged the company to sign on another Taiwan-based manufacturer and investor last year.
It also recently started acquiring select products from a Mexico-based factory, and plans to transition production of some plasma sets there, to be closer to the source of its X4 LG plasma panel supplier, said Jeff Schindler, business operations and marketing VP.
Vizio's sales in 2005 totaled $150 million, Schindler said. That rose to $750 million in 2006 and is expected to exceed $2 billion in 2007.
"We're looking at 10 percent market share this year," Schindler said. "We are by far the No. 1 selling TV both at Costco and Sam's Club. I average less than one week of stock at the clubs. We sold more through Thanksgiving and Christmas than we did in all of 2005."
Most recently Vizio has benefited significantly from favorable reviews for picture performance on several key models, a virtually unbeaten entry price point in several screen sizes, and select cable television advertising which has heightened the brand name.
In addition to offering everyday very low prices, Vizio has successfully used coupons as promotional tools. One coupon promotion on a 42W-inch LCD TV model last year resulted in the sale of over 10,000 pieces in one hour, Schindler said.
"When all the other brands had excess inventory on the shelves, we were sold out. We couldn't build them fast enough. It was amazing," Schindler said.
At the recent International CES, Vizio unveiled models in its new Gallevia LCD TV assortment. The line, which features only higher resolution LCD TVs, will include the 42W-inch, 46W-inch, 47W-inch, and 52W-inch screen sizes this year.
The name for the Gallevia sub brand evolved from the word Gallery, Schindler said, to represent "a high-resolution picture that hangs on the wall."
The LCD TV models employ slightly different design accents than the current HDTV series, including the use of translucent bezels and removable speakers. Models will be offered in either 720p or full 1,920 by 1,080p HD resolution.
One of the first Gallevia models to launch was GV47L. In stores now, the model includes a 1,080p panel, a 1,080p MTK video processing chipset, two HDMI inputs, two component inputs, a VGA input, and a backlit remote. The product is available through Costco at an $1,899 everyday price. It was also given a one-week special using a $250 coupon, which worked very successfully, according to a company spokesman.
Also planned is the Gallevia GV42L ($1,199) 42W-inch LCD TV, which will include Genesis video processing circuitry.
At CES, the company showed a forthcoming 52W-inch Gallevia model that is expected to be introduced in August for less than $2,000. The set will feature four HDMI inputs, and a side mounted USB port. It will also employ next-generation Cortez Advanced video processing circuitry.
For plasma, Schindler said "the play going forward is in 50W-inch and larger screen sizes," although the company is giving a 42W-inch model a final trial at under $1,099, with eyes at hitting the $999 price point.
In larger screen sizes, the company is offering a 60W-inch model, which will launch at the end of the month at a $2,999 selling price. That unit will include 1,366 by 768 resolution, four HDMI inputs and rear-firing speakers that enable a slim-bezel design.
Circuit City, meanwhile, is carrying the 50W-inch Vizio P50HDTV model ($1,899 selling price), featuring 1,366 by 768 resolution and Genesis video processing.
Going forward Vizio will work with Circuit City, which started taking select Vizio models late in 2006, to determine the most appropriate model offerings for that chain, Schindler said.
At CES, the company also showed as a concept product a 50W-inch plasma model bundled with a subwoofer that connects wirelessly to the set, and a pair of surround sound speakers that are connected by fine wires to the subwoofer.
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