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Sharp To Cut AQUOS TV Prices

Sharp notified dealers that it will cut suggested retail pricing on a series of AQUOS LCD-TV models in key screen sizes.

The price decreases, which take effect Nov. 1 and come one month after another series of AQUOS price cuts, affect models in screen sizes from 13 inches to 45W inches.

Dealers told TWICE that the new prices on the larger panels, particularly the very hot 37W-inch screen size, will give trained sales floors better ability to move customers to LCD from plasma models. Some accounts have reported trouble keeping plasma models in stock since Panasonic implemented major price cuts in its line earlier in the fall.

Sharp’s LCD-TV marketing team was in Japan this week and could not be reached for comment.

The new suggested retail prices obtained by TWICE include the following AQUOS models:

The 13-inch LC13B8U-S drops from $499.99, to $449.99.

The 20-inch LC20S4U-S drops from $799.99, to $749.99.

The 26W-inch LC26DA5U drops from $1,399.99, to $1,299.99.

The step-up 26W-inch LC26D4U with integrated ATSC tuning drops from $1,699.99, to $1,599.99, and the step-up integrated LC26D6U drops from $1,799.99, to 1,699.99.

The 32W-inch LC32D5U drops from $1,899.99, to $1,699.99, while the integrated step-up LC32D4U drops from $2,399.99, to $1,999.99 and the LC32D6U drops from $2,499.99, to $2,099.99.

The change cited by dealers as being the most significant for plasma was on 37W-inch models, including the LC37DB5U, which drops from $3,299, to $2,799, while the step-up LC37D4U drops from $3,499.99, to $2,999.99 and the LC37D6U drops from $3,599.99, to $3,099.99.

The 45W-inch models LC45GD5U and LC45GD7U drop from $6,499.99, to $5499.99, each.

A memo circulated to Sharp dealers listed “RRP pricing,” which is closer to actual street retails and run about $100 to $200 lower on average than the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices that Sharp advertises on many of the models and confirmed for this report.

Retailers told TWICE they felt the most recent price move was made in response to recent market share gains by competitors, including Panasonic, which announced dramatic price cuts in its plasma line a month ago, and Sony, which recently introduced its BRAVIA LCD-TV line.

Sony cited weekly sales reports from The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y., in claiming the No. 1 market share position in LCD TV in recent weeks.

One plasma supplier said he did not see Sharp’s price moves impacting the plasma category.

“Even as LCD prices have moved in the past, I have not seen any instance historically where it has had any immediate or near-term effect on plasma sales,” said Jonas Tanenbaum, Samsung’s flat-panel displays senior marketing manager, whose company is a major manufacturer and marketer of plasma and LCD TVs.

As for LCD TV, he said, Samsung will study Sharp’s move.

“As a top-tier manufacturer, we have a pledge to our dealers and ultimately to our consumers to remain competitive with our benchmark competitors in the marketplace,” Tanenbaum said. “That what’s moving the dynamics in the marketplace today.” — Additional reporting by Alan Wolf