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Is Toshiba Set To Get Out Of OZ TV Market?

By David Richards | Monday | 30/09/2013

Toshiba which is struggling to hold onto market share in the notebook market has moved to restructure its loss making TV division with the company set to get out of several markets.

Overnight the company said that it will halve the number of staff in its TV division to 3,000 as it looks to revamp the unit's operations.

Toshiba is not saying whether it will stop selling TV's in the Australian market after its parent Company indicated that it was set to scale back TV sales in several regions of the world.

Toshiba said it would focus on emerging markets including Asia and Africa, and end sales in "unprofitable regions". The company's digital products division, which includes TV manufacturing, saw its losses widen to $166m, in the financial year to 31 March, compared with a loss of $150m a year earlier.

To date Toshiba Australia has not announced any 4K TV products for the Australian market.

The company which has been hit by slowing demand, falling prices and increased competition, has had a chequered history selling consumer electronics entertainment products in Australia.

In 2010 the Federal Court ordered Toshiba to pay out  to Castel Electronics a Melbourne based distributor which at the time had the rights to sell Toshiba TV's and set top boxes prior to Toshiba Australia moving to sell its own TV's direct to retailers.

Castel which for several years was the Australian distributor of Toshiba products, ended up copping huge losses due to what it called at the time "poor Toshiba consumer electronic goods that suffered from chronic failure". The matter ended up in the Federal Court.

More than 5 per cent of the Toshiba products were being returned by consumers due to faults the court heard.

According to the statement of claim in the Federal Court, some of the set-top boxes and rear projection televisions sold under the Toshiba brand in Australia were a disaster.

In particular, a set-top box known as the J35 seems to have been one of the great lemons of all time.

It is even described in the claim as "experimental" - with Australian consumers the guinea pigs helping to iron out the defects.

With a total of 54 different faults, the boxes were coming back for repairs almost as fast as they could be returned or sold.

Toshiba lost the case and was forced to pay Castel several million dollars compensation.

Toshiba, which makes the Regza brand TV sets, said in last night's statement that the changes were aimed "toward improving profitability and strengthening foundations of the business".

The firm said it would separate the TV business from its Digital Products & Services Company and merge it with Toshiba Home Appliances Corporation.

Ultra high-definition

Toshiba said that it would move resources towards making large screen ultra-high-definition (HD) 4K LCD TVs "where growing demand is expected".

Toshiba's move to focus on the technology also comes as Japan is looking to become the first country to broadcast 4K programming over satellite from 2014, in time for the football World Cup.

Earlier this year, a Japanese telecoms company said that it was carrying out tests to try to prove that 4K-resolution video could be streamed over the internet to television set-top boxes.

Leading global manufacturers have been looking at this segment, which offers four times the amount of detail as 1080p high-definition TV, as an area of potential growth.


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