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Thomson Outlines Connectivity Business Strategy

New York — With Thomson out of the television business and no longer representing its display brands in the United States, the company took advantage of the Home Entertainment Expo, being held here, to outline its new business strategy.

The Thomson Connectivity Business Unit (CBU), headed by company veteran Mike O’Hara as its executive VP, is one-third of a company that consists of three product groupings: home networking accessories (connectivity, user interface and network adapters); consumer A/V (DVD, PVR and digital audio); and ATLINKS/communications (corded and cordless phones, cell dock and SOHO).

CBU continues to market the RCA and Thomson brands, along with RCA Lyra, Acoustic Research (AR), Jensen, Gyration, Recoton, Advent and SpikeMaster. CBU’s customers include retailers and consumers. TTL has a 20-year license for the RCA and Thomson brands in television and based on the licensing fees Thomson is getting from TTL, “We are investing in these brands. Our intention is to put money back into the brands.” And he noted that TTL is doing the same.

Through its other two units, the services division that provides services through its Technicolor brand to content creators, and systems and equipment division that sells video systems and equipment to broadcasters, cable and satellite providers, Thomson is now involved all aspects of getting media and entertainment to consumers. The difference now is that Thomson’s only relation to the television business is through TCL, the joint venture that Thomson has a 33 percent stake in.

Many of the products that CBU now sells are, or seem to be, accessories, but that’s not the term that executives with the “new” Thomson likes to describe the operation. That term is “connectivity.”

“Our (CBU) mission statement is to expand our portfolio … enabling network operators, retailers and consumers to connect, control and interface with media and entertainment content across Thomson product platforms,” O’Hara said. CBU is focused on four areas of revenue growth: new technologies, client expansion, new channels of retail distribution and territory expansion.

Thomson no longer just wants to sell individual products, but “solutions” that will “enable consumers to take content with them,” as O’Hara stated, in a relatively easy and seamless way. Because the company is so involved in the development of technology with content creators and content distributors, the expertise it is gathering can enable Thomson to provide “end-to-end solutions,” he said.

Whether the consumer wants to use content from DVD, CD, via a USB port, Bluetooth, the Web, UPnP, Wi-Fi et al, Doug Lankford, VP/chief technology officer for CBU, said Thomson must provide “products that easily interface with the consumer and … serve content within the home.”