Toshiba targets emerging LCD markets with battery powered TV

Toshiba has announced plans to double sales of television screens in Southeast Asia by targeting the specific concerns of emerging economies such as Vietnam and Indonesia.

The Japanese firm is aiming to gain a share of a market that is expected to see a 32 percent increase in flat-screen television sales next year as consumers move away from the traditional cathode-ray tube (CRT) sets. Toshiba will target the emerging economies by addressing problems such as poor reception and blackouts in countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, known as Asean countries.

Shigenori Tokumitsu, Vice President of Visual Products Company, Toshiba said: “Our business is global, but we recognise that different regions have different characteristics and requirements. Toshiba’s visual products enjoy a long-standing reputation for quality in the Asean region, and we are more than confident that we can further contribute to our customers in this important market with leading-edge products that feature functions and capabilities they want.”

“While Samsung and LG hold larger shares in Asean countries, they haven’t necessarily established solid sales channels in the region yet,” said Masaaki Oosumi, the head of Toshiba’s Visual Products segment, at a press briefing. “We are confident that we can achieve a market share rivalling South Korean players (in the Asean region) in the coming year,” Oosumi said.

The news that Toshiba is intent on gaining a greater market share of the Asean market from Korean rivals Samsung and LG was backed by the launch of its LED Power TV with integrated battery, which can address the problem of blackouts by lasting for two hours without mains access.  

The Power TV also features an “Auto Signal Booster” that improves signal sensitivity and allows viewing in areas with weak signal strengths.

It is hoped that the new battery powered LED TV, the world’s first according to Toshiba, will aid the electronics firm in its aim to achieve sales of more than 1.2 million units in the Asean market in 2011, chalking up a 20 percent market share in the process.  This will represent more than double the 500,000 units sold in 2010.

It is thought that with the with the increasing use of flat screen televisions in many nations across the world, including fast growing market in Asia, Africa the Middle East and Latin America, Toshiba is looking to take the same approach in other regions. According to The Wall Street Journal,  Oosumi stated that the company is already working on developing the next versions of Power TVs and plans to bring them to other emerging markets.

Indeed it was also announced that Toshiba is in talks with a its Egyptian business partner El Araby with regards to building a new LCD plant in the country, in a bid to tap into potential future demand in a region where 90 percent of TVs are CRT.  

Toshiba plans to generate half of its total TV sales in emerging countries in the future, with such sales currently accounting for just 10 percent.

According to DisplaySearch analyst Paul Gray, Toshiba is very clever to be moving in to emerging markets to plant the seeds for future sales.

“It can be seen that Toshiba’s current pricing strategy is definitely to be hunting volume sales, and it is clear it is repositioning itself as a value brand,” Gray told TechEye

“There are rapidly growing markets across the world, such as in Latin America, which are the next places that will generate vast amounts of sales.  In richer countries such as in Europe nations the majority of people who want a flat screen television may already have one, so in that sense the market only has replacement value, whereas in emerging market there are potentially very lucrative sales.”

“Many emerging markets are in countries with very specific needs to that area and often require more robust components.  For example in India it can be the custom for a large family to crowd around a television set meaning that louder speakers are necessary.  Or many places have haphazard antenna installation which will certainly be helped by Toshiba’s decision to house a signal booster inside the set.”

“It is certainly heartening to see that Toshiba are attempting to position themselves within the emerging markets by actually tailoring to products to suit specific needs, rather than merely rolling out a global standard.”

“However whether or not Toshiba can increase sales to the extent it has aimed for will have to be seen as features such as the battery power are probably very easy to copy.”