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Vizio Beats Samsung, Sony as Top LCD TV Seller

Research from iSuppli has shown that LCD HDTV sales during the first quarter of 2009 actually bested those from 2008 by more than 10 percent – a surprising figure given the tough economic times.

Instead of holding off from buying that new TV, consumers seem to be shifting their buying tendencies to be more price sensitive. That could help explain why Vizio is now the top seller of LCD TVs in North America.

Vizio’s share of North American LCD TV unit shipments rose to 21.6 percent in the first quarter, up 7.8 percentage points from 13.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

"Due to its aggressive pricing, Vizio for some time has maintained its position as the North America’s top-selling LCD-TV value brand," said Riddhi Patel, principal analyst, television systems, for iSuppli. "However, since the onset of the economic downturn, Vizio’s share has risen dramatically. With budgets becoming increasingly tight, consumers are finding the company’s inexpensive sets more alluring."

According to iSuppli’s numbers, Vizio’s lowest average selling price (ASP) for a 42-inch Cold-Cathode Fluorescent (CCFL) backlit, 60Hz refresh rate, full High-Definition (HD) LCD-TV was $850. In comparison, Samsung and Sony 40-inch LCD-TVs with the same configurations carried ASPs of $1,000 and $1,090 respectively.

While the 'premium' models from Samsung and Sony do offer more features and typically better quality, Vizio has stepped up with more ‘high-end’ 120 Hz models of its own. At the 40/42-inch size for a 120 Hz set, the price differential between Vizio and Samsung and Sony was $400, with the Vizio set priced at about $1,000.

Oddly enough, Vizio’s rapid growth wasn’t mainly at the expense of Samsung or Sony, but rather from smaller and less recognizable brands.

"Smaller brands saw their share of shipments decline so rapidly because of increased competition from the premium brands in terms of pricing and availability of 32-inch and smaller sizes," Patel said. "Premium brands priced some of their product lines very competitively with their value alternatives, compelling consumers to go for names that they recognize."

It remains to be seen whether or not Vizio can stay at the top of the sales charts, but perhaps the company’s mix of increasing brand awareness (though it has a ways to go before it will carry the same weight as "a Sony") along with its attractive pricing make it easy for consumers to buy its LCD TVs.