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Sony Dumps Rear Projection TV

San Diego – Sony will exit the rear projection TV category to focus on flat-panel LCD TV after current inventories of its 3LCD- and SXRD-based products are exhausted, a company spokesman confirmed.

“We are moving our resources more toward LCD TV, because that’s what people really want,” a Sony spokesman said, confirming a published report.

The company began telling select retailers about the decision following several months of study, the spokesman said, adding that Sony will continue selling front projection products through its custom home theater division.

The decision came despite the fact that Sony ranked second in the category for sell-through, with 28 percent of the U.S. market through November, behind Samsung, according to The NPD Group. Sony rear projection sets were also No. 1 in shelf-share at 31.77 percent in November, according to Current Analysis West, an NPD Group company.

Sony’s decision comes as the market for rear projection products continues to compress under advances in flat-panel TV technologies to larger screen sizes and ever-declining prices.

DisplaySearch, an NPD Group company, forecasts North American sales of 1.6 million rear projection sets in 2007, down from 3.1 million in 2006. The firm is calling for total rear projection sales of about 670,000 in 2008.

Sony’s decision to drop the rear projection category to focus on flat-panel TV follows similar recent decisions by Philips, Toshiba and Hitachi, and leaves Samsung, Mitsubishi, RCA, Panasonic and JVC as the major players in the segment.

Manufacturers remaining in rear projection are now moving to larger screen sizes, offering a better value than either plasma or LCD flat-panel sets.