Brand Change Is Accelerating

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Change is a by-product of this industry but the past couple of weeks have been ridiculous.

As the downturn continues it seems as if many of the major manufacturing and retail brands that have made the electronics/appliance industry are now talked about in terms of mergers and acquisitions. More former adversaries are becoming partners. In this economy those in trouble are looking for a lifeline, or are being looked at as relatively inexpensive targets.

The most obvious case is General Electric’s decision to sell its major appliance business. The impact on the majap market will be profound, depending upon who buys it and how they use the valuable GE brand.

Some of the other changes are due to the end of the fiscal year for Asian companies. Usually around April, if not May, rumored moves are finally announced.

So it wasn’t a shocker to see that the Kenwood/JVC merger finally became official last week, pending the approval of stockholders of both companies. But its main stockholders, Matsushita (JVC) and SPARX (Kenwood) are both on board so this is all but a done deal. It matches Kenwood’s mobile expertise with JVC’s strength in home electronics.

Pioneer confirmed that its investment partner and market competitor Sharp will begin to provide LCD TVs to be sold under its brand in Europe this year and ’09 in the U.S. This will be the first of several collaborations between these two brands.

One real surprise came from Asia last week was word that LG Electronics and Samsung have both agreed to work on a single standard for digital TV transmission for mobile applications. Maybe they partnered because of the progress behind Qualcomm’s MediaFLO mobile video transmission system, but both manufacturers deny it.

Back here at home XM and Sirius made their quarterly reports on the same day last week with both reporting subscription growth. Both rightfully griped about the FCC’s snail’s pace in approving its merger.

And Circuit City opened its books and added directors to its board, at the urging of Blockbuster, Mark Wattles and Carl Icahn. Wattles told our senior editor Alan Wolf that Circuit City could be sold in two months. And who knows, maybe a blog by our executive editor Greg Tarr is right about Icahn wanting to take over the CE industry. While backing Blockbuster, Icahn turned around last week and told Yahoo it should be bought by Microsoft.

George Granoff, president/CEO of Tweeter, spoke with TWICE at the PRO Group meeting about a new store format strategy and answered questions about its owner’s commitment, Schulze Asset Management, to its future.

Speaking of retail, we published this week our special TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers edition. Our thanks go to our research partner, The Stevenson Company and its VP Bob Tancula for doing another fine job along with TWICE’s own resident retail expert, senior editor Alan Wolf, managing editor John Laposky, associate editor Lisa Johnston and graphic artist Desiree Nunez who helped produce, edit and design this report.

Change is the by-product of the CE industry. If you have any doubt, just take a look at the TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers report and the news of recent weeks proof.


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