Pioneer Looks Toward LCD as Kuro Project Leads to Losses 
Home Theater News LCD HDTV News
Thursday, 13 March 2008

Pioneer Corporation reported a loss for their fiscal year today, mainly due to the effect of the company pulling out of the plasma market. They abruptly stopped their critically acclaimed Kuro (the word for black in Japanese) line of plasma HDTVs only a few months before Fujitsu said they would no longer be making plasma HDTVs. It is widely speculated Fujitsu was the OEM providing Pioneer their plasma sets that were ultimately badged under the Kuro name.

Pioneer president Tamihiko Sudo said, “Our TVs sell for about twice as much as competitors,” which consumers are saying isn’t going to cut it. Vizio, using the warehouse chains to move HDTVs to the masses, have set new standards for low prices, resulting in over $2,000,000,000 in annual sales. Sony, reporting a profit this year, thanks to profits from Blu-ray and the Playstation 3, have dropped their BRAVIA LCD prices to come very close to the price points set by Vizio and the other discount brands, thus keeping Sony clients loyal and away from the off-brand products.

Pioneer is looking to Matsushita as a potential partner for “glass” for future Kuro plasmas. They are also looking at Sharp as a partner for LCD panels, so that they can use flat HDTVs to be a performance and value leader again, as they were mere months ago with their first Kuro lineup.

Pioneer is one of the main supporters of the Blu-ray format and is likely to get a bump in 2008-2009 from sales of players that sell under the Pioneer name, as well as those that are ultimately branded by other companies as an OEM. Without question, they will need to get their HDTV line straightened out to make the most of their Blu-ray windfall. Pioneer has decades of loyalty from their main brand, as well as their Elite brand, that could easily make for increased market share for competitors like Sony and Samsung (who share a multi-billion-dollar LCD factory), as well as the low-cost brands that have jumped on the scene in recent years.

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