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iSuppli: Samsung Tops In Q4 LCD TV Share

El Segundo, Calif. — Samsung outpaced all brands in North American LCD TV market share during the fourth quarter of 2007, knocking Vizio, the leader for the prior two quarters back to third place, according to a flat-panel TV brand share report issued by market research firm iSuppli.

Samsung’s fourth quarter unit-shipment market share rose to 14.2 percent, up from 12.8 percent in the third quarter, iSuppli said. The South Korean company had been in second place in the third quarter.

Sony, which took the second spot during the quarter, increased its market share to 12.5 percent, up from 10.8 percent in the third. Sony had been in fourth place during the third quarter.

U.S.-based Vizio, meanwhile, saw its market share decline in the fourth quarter to 12.4 percent, down from 13 percent in the third quarters.

iSuppli said Vizio had risen to the top spot due to a combination of low pricing and high-visibility sales channels. However, Samsung and Sony struck back with their own low pricing in the fourth quarter.

“Samsung and Sony employed very aggressive pricing and promotion strategies to take advantage of the key holiday buying season,” stated Riddhi Patel, principal analyst, television systems for iSuppli. “For example, Samsung in December offered a $300 price discount for its 40-inch models, and heavily promoted those sets through leading electronics retailer Best Buy, giving it dominance at that size. Meanwhile, Sony enjoyed increasing sales of its line of more affordable LCD TVs, giving the company the lead in the markets for 46-inch and 52-inch sets.”

Patel said Vizio didn’t offer as many pricing deals as Samsung did in the fourth quarter, although it maintained its leadership in the 32-, 37- and 42-inch sizes.

“While Vizio’s pricing was still lower than Samsung’s and Sony’s in the fourth quarter, the differential was not great enough to lure as many North American consumers away from the established brands,” she said.

“Consumers in the television industry are not as brand conscious as they once were, as evidenced by the popularity of Vizio,” Patel said. “However, when the difference in pricing between a value-brand television and a premium-brand set is within the 10 percent range, consumers often will go for the premium brand.”

Samsung and Sony were able to lower prices by reducing their sales channel margins, according to iSuppli.

“All the LCD TV brands pay about the same price for panels — and the cost of production by original design manufacturers (ODMs) is about equal for everyone,” Patel noted. “That leaves the brand and channel margin. Samsung and Sony had more room to cut these margins than Vizio due to their higher prices.”

Market conditions were strong during the quarter, with LCD TV shipments in North America rising to 7.9 million units, up 41 percent from 5.6 million in the third quarter.

In plasma, iSuppli said Panasonic remained in first place in North America in the fourth quarter.

Panasonic added a 9.2 percentage point rise to 37.1 percent in the quarter, up from 27.9 percent in the third quarter. The achievement was credited to aggressive pricing coupled with the availability of its 42-inch full high-definition model.

Samsung continued in second place with 19.7 percent market share, up from 18.4 percent in the third quarter. The North American plasma television market rose to 1.3 million units in the fourth quarter, up 36 percent from 933,500 units in the third quarter.