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DisplaySearch: Samsung Tops LCD Sales

Samsung retook the No. 1 North American market share position in LCD TV and overall flat-panel TV during the first quarter of 2008, as Vizio inched up to take second place in combined sales, pushing Sony into third, according to a first-quarter report from market research firm DisplaySearch.

The ranking was reported in the company’s Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report for the first quarter of 2008. DisplaySearch is owned by The NPD Group.

DisplaySearch said that Samsung took the top LCD TV spot back from Sony, which had posted the top LCD TV share in Q4 2007, for the first time since Q1 2007, rising to 12.8 percent unit share.

Samsung also maintained its share lead in combined flat-panel TV comprising shipments of both LCD and plasma TVs, according to preliminary findings in the report.

DisplaySearch said LCD TV was a highly competitive category in Q1 2008 with the top three brands — Samsung, Sony and Vizio — separated by less than half a point of unit share, at 12.8 percent, 12.6 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively.

Panasonic commanded the top share in Plasma TV by a large margin, accounting for 33 percent of Q1’08 shipments, down from their 38 percent share in Q4’07, while No. 2 LG had just over 19 percent.

Vizio posted its strongest combined flat-panel TV share to date, rising from 10.3 percent in Q4’07 to 12.2 percent in Q1’08, overtaking Sony for No. 2 with distribution in the U.S. only (rather than U.S. and Canada like most other brands) and benefiting from a dual LCD and plasma product strategy.

Vizio also had the strongest year-to-year growth of any top five flat-panel TV brand.

Sony dropped to No. 2 in LCD TV and to No. 3 in combined flat-panel TV after an exceptionally strong Q4 2007. Sony did, however, leverage a strong focus on larger sizes to maintain a leadership position in 40-inch and larger LCD TVs, which they have held for 10 straight quarters.

DisplaySearch said, “Sony’s focus on larger sizes and typically higher average selling price will likely lead to a No. 1 revenue share position in LCD TV for the quarter.”

The overall LCD TV category posted solid shipment growth in Q1 2008, beating estimates and climbing 59 percent higher than Q1 2007. Plasma growth turned negative though, falling 9 percent year-to-year in Q1 2008 after growth had finally turned positive again in Q4 2007.

“Overall, flat-panel TVs grew 47 percent year-to-year as a weak U.S. economy in Q1 2008 didn’t seem to deter consumers or retail TV buyers,” DisplaySearch said.