Sony unveils high-definition LCD TV brand

SAN DIEGO: With flat-screen televisions promising to be one of the hottest items this holiday season, Sony is unveiling a new brand dedicated just to high-definition LCD TVs.

SAN DIEGO: With flat-screen televisions promising to be one of the hottest items this holiday season, Sony is unveiling a new brand dedicated just to high-definition LCD TVs.

The new brand, BRAVIA, amounts to Sony putting a stake in the ground, asserted Rick Clancy, SVP of corporate communications.

"We're placing a bet that with flat-panels televisions, consumers will choose LCD and not plasma," he said.

Sony is also placing a bet that consumers will put such TVs at the top of their wish lists this year as prices continue to drop and LCD sets become available in more sizes.

"Flat screens will be popular this year, but I think next year they will be even more popular," said Clancy.

Sony's marketing push will include media outreach to highlight the benefits of LCD technology over plasma, as well as Sony's leadership role in high-definition technology, from film production and editing to personal video cameras.

But equally important is beating the competition, including Sharp Electronics, Samsung, Hitachi, and Royal Philips Electronics. While Sony expects strong flat-screen sales beyond this holiday season, the company is working to link its brand to the LCD market, so that consumers see the brand and category as synonymous, or at least think of Sony first.

Sony is hoping the burgeoning flat-screen market will help restore a bit of luster to its global image. While still the biggest name in consumer electronics, Sony is facing tight competition not just from other consumer electronics companies such as Samsung, but also from Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, and Canon in the digital camera realm, and from Apple Computer, which dominates the digital music space.

Sony will be working with Burson-Marsteller on the PR component of the new brand, focusing on both the superiority of LCD technology, and Sony's legacy and leadership role in developing such technology, said Clancy.

According to research firm iSuppli, LCD TVs saw a 12% increase in shipments during the first quarter of 2005, a typically down quarter for televisions.

The survey predicts that by 2009, while traditional televisions will continue to dominate the market, LCD flat-screen TVs will be the second most popular, constituting 25% of all TVs.

Currently, Sony is third in terms of global LCD market share, at 9.4%, following Sharp at 22.6% and Samsung at 9.7%, according to iSuppli.

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