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Samsung Follows Sony In Cutting Ultra HD Prices

New York – Pricing on new high-ticket Ultra High-Definition TVs have started plummeting faster than the consumer confidence index, with word from retailers that Samsung followed Sony’s lead in making price reductions on recently introduced Ultra HD LCD TVs.

Similarly, LG released a statement from Korea that it was planning to soon introduce new less-featured 55- and 65-inch Ultra HD TVs that potentially could also impact current price thresholds, but the company was not commenting on whether or not those plans included U.S. distribution.

According to multiple retail sources, who asked not to be named, Samsung significantly dropped prices on its F9000-series TVs Aug. 25, matching price cuts previously announced to retailers by Sony, and taking effect the same day.

Retailers said Samsung’s UN55F9000 55-inch Ultra HD will now carry a new $4,499 unilateral pricing policy (UPP) tag. That would be a $1,000 reduction from the previously listed price on Amazon. The 65-inch UN65F900 model has been reduced to a $5,999 UPP – a more than $1,500 reduction from the Amazon advertised price.

Samsung’s UPP, which is now a commonly exercised practice by most top-line TV manufacturers, prevents dealers from promoting or selling products at lower prices.

All of the mentioned Ultra HD TVs are LCD flat-panel displays with LED edge or back lighting and offer roughly four times the resolution level of today’s most common FullHD 1080p displays.

Meanwhile, retailers also confirmed to TWICE that Sony started the price moves two weeks ago by notifying dealers of Ultra HD price cuts it was making on Aug. 25. Sony reduced the UPP of its 55-inch XBR-65X900A by $1,000 to $3,998 and its 65-inch XBR-65X900A by $1,500 to $5,498.

Dealer sources said Sony told dealers it was also preparing to introduce two new additional Ultra HD models that do not include the elaborate internal sound and speaker systems that highlight the X900A-series units.

Sony’s two new Ultra HD LCD TVs models are to include a 55-inch unit at a $3498 UPP and a 65-inch unit at a $4,998 UPP.

“Margins will remain the same, as far as percentage,” a Sony dealer told TWICE.

Asked to confirm the prices, Sony Electronics president and COO Phil Molyneux said only, “We will be able to share more details soon,” adding, “Sony has led the 4K market creation from the start. Since launching the Sony 65- and 55-inch XBR 4K Ultra HD TV models with our unique Triluminos color performance together with the media server and the world’s only 4K native feature films, the consumer feedback has been incredibly positive. Sony takes the leadership position seriously and with the advent of our Video Unlimited 4K download service going live in the fall, we wish to bring these amazing experiences to more consumer homes.”

For its part, LG Electronics’ corporate parent released a statement in Korean announcing the planned rollout of two more Ultra HD TVs in the 55-inch and 65-inch screen sizes – the 55LA9650 and 65LA9650, respectively.

Unlike the 55LA9700 and 65LA9700 models currently available in the United States, the new models will step down to a 2.1-channel internal sound systems, from 4.1-channel audio available now; will have slightly wider bezel designs; and will drop the built-in camera.

According to the Korean statement, the 65LA9650 will be priced at $6,999 and the 55LA9650 will be $4,999, which is $1,000 less than LG’s current models. Availability dates were not disclosed in the statement, and spokesmen from LG’s U.S. operations did not return phone calls as this went to press to say whether or not the same models are heading to the U.S. market any time soon.

“It’s just unbelievable. Everybody’s reacting to each other,” one dealer told TWICE. “Sony made a very aggressive move here, and it concerns me. How do you make money?”

Tamaryn Pratt, Quixel Research principal, declined to confirm any company’s specific price moves, but indicated that she has heard Sony was making a number of moves to ensure its leadership position in 4K Ultra HDTV.

“Sony doesn’t need to increase their share of Ultra HD, but it’s no secret that they want to increase their volume, to make sure no one takes their leadership position in 4K,” Pratt said.

Pratt said any company making such price moves “better have the wherewithal to back it up with more models and deep model lineups that could address more price points in the future. I hope that that’s in place to make it work.”

Pratt said that when price cuts are made, “I hope there is a long-term strategy and it is not just a price move to get more volume.”