Japan's Sony Corp unveiled 15 new flat TVs and a new remote control for the domestic market on Wednesday, as a part of a world-wide effort to win back market share during the year-end shopping season.
Sony, the world's second-largest maker of liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs, is struggling to catch up to South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, even as price falls hurt margins and home rival Sharp Corp plans a new LCD plant.
Sony hopes its new 40-inch to 70-inch high definition TVs and a new remote that does not have to be pointed at the TV will help its Bravia-brand LCD TVs turn a profit this year, from a roughly 20 billion yen ($176 million) loss in April-June.
The year-end shopping season is going to be very tough, Sony Senior Vice President Takashi Fukuda told a news conference.
Price competition has hurt Sony's LCD TV sales, which grew a mere 5 percent in April-June from a year earlier, while Samsung sales jumped 54 percent and Sharp gained 31 percent, according to research firm DisplaySearch.
Sony's global share fell to 13.2 percent in April-June from 17.1 percent in January-March.
Sony is pretty vulnerable to price competition, said an analyst who asked that his name not be used due to an internal rule about speaking to the press. He said he expected Sony to post a 2 percent operating profit margin from its LCD TVs this year, down from 3.5 percent last year.
That's going to fall to zero next year, he said.
Sony launched a $100 million marketing blitz earlier this month to rekindle sales momentum for high definition screens. Its LCD joint venture with Samsung also began shipment of eighth-generation large-size panels this week, to help the two rivals lower per-TV costs.
Sony aims to boost its LCD TV sales by 59 percent from a year earlier to 10 million units in the year to March 2008.
Shares of Sony fell 2.8 percent to 5,230 yen on Wednesday as exporters' shares tumbled on a strong yen following a Wall Street fall on fears of about the U.S. economy. The benchmark Nikkei average closed down 1.7 percent.