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Mitsubishi, Hitachi Outline HDTV Goals

Home Entertainment Source enabled five of its video suppliers to make presentations on its brand positioning, marketing and product plans to its membership during its bi-annual meeting here this month.

Mitsubishi and Hitachi made presentations and TWICE sat in on those meetings. The other presentations were made by Pioneer, Samsung and Sharp.

Frank DeMartin, marketing and product development VP for Mitsubishi, said that while the company hopes the industry will have some price stability in HDTV this year, “supply … makes that unlikely.”

To differentiate itself Mitsubishi is emphasizing various areas in 2007 and 2008: 1,080p, high-performance features and “sleek, simple design,” DeMartin said. In that vein, Mitsubishi sees opportunities in microdisplay, emphasizing 1,080p in its line and picture performance vs. flat screen, which will include a slim design and new light sources, such as LED and laser, with the over-60-inch category as a growth area, DeMartin said.

In LCD DeMartin said that this year “46-inch could be the new 40-inch” with Mitsubishi offering 40-inch, 46-inch and 52-inch units which are thinner and more compact by several inches than previous models, emphasizing x.v. color, co-developed with Sony.

And in terms of design, its 2007 LCDs will be slimmer. For instance, its 46-inch LCD will be 4.6 inches smaller in width and 2.7 inches higher in length than the 2006 versions.

DeMartin reminded HES attendees that its laser television technology, which he said is set for 2008 and 2009 lines, is a new HDTV format whose key features are “color reproduction and sculptured design,” again emphasizing a sleeker look for these TVs using x.v. color, and is a “large-screen TV with lower power needs,” less than one-third of the power use of same-sized existing HDTVs.

Peter Brown, Hitachi’s sales VP of its consumer group, discussed his company’s technology and change in the way it presents itself to the trade and consumers in the United States.

Brown said North America’s share of Hitachi’s marketing budget has increased dramatically in the past year and will continue to do so in 2007. “Our ads are not traditional ads from a technology company,” he noted, in discussing Hitachi’s current campaign. “These are fashion ads that address branding” and are designed to “impress consumers that we are on the front edge of technology.” The goal is to make consumers “feel good” that they are buying an “accessible luxury.”

No mention of the size of the new ad campaign was made by Brown.

He remarked that Hitachi “overbuild[s] our products” for reliability and that with new management in the past year and a half, We are no longer ‘in your face,’ but wanting to work with you.”

Hitachi is offering three lines of products for national and regional retailers and its Director’s series for A/V specialists like HES, Brown noted. “We did have a Hitachi at Wal-Mart line [last year] but that didn’t work. We still have a good relationship with them and still sell camcorders there” but not HDTVs, he said.

Whether it is plasma or LCD, Hitachi considers it a “flat-panel business” where they had a 5 percent share in the United States, and the goal is to have a 10 percent share in 2007. Brown added, “The goal is fine, but I asked, ‘How will we do it?'” Hitachi reminded HES members that it will broaden its HDTV line to 16 units, 10 of which provide the “full HDTV experience” at 1,920 by 1,080p, the cornerstone being a 60-inch plasma that is designed to be sold only through A/V specialists.