If Pioneer’s rumoured pull out of the plasma market does go ahead, then the Australian CE sector will be the poorer for it, according to retailers.
Len Wallis from Len Wallis Audio says he wishes it doesn’t happen, but if it does, that the technology isn’t lost. “I hope they don’t go,” he said. “However, it would be good if they sell the technology onto Panasonic if they do. I think [their plasma is] a stunning product. It is still the best I’ve seen and is the best thing going.”
Adam Merlino from Audio Connections agrees. “If Pioneer gets out of plasmas it will be a great loss to the industry,” he says. “Their [plasmas] have the best picture on the market.”
Another retailer hoping that Pioneer management won’t wield the axe is Mark Hales, store manager for Audio Trends. “We were very sad when Fujisti pulled out.,” he said. “We’ll feel the same way if Pioneer leave. They have a very high standard of panel, the only rival they’ve got is Panasonic. Not that Panasonic are that bad, but Pioneer are a better manufacturer than Panasonic.”
Pioneer’s General Manager – HGE, Tim O’Leary, isn’t making any promises on the rumour. “At this stage there are no announcements,” he said. “There is an official announcement on Friday but you have to realise we are a publically listed company and we have to wait and see what our parent company says.”
All retailers spoken to by Smarthouse believe that Pioneer can survive in the market, but the company needs to hunker down and not take on the likes of Sony and Panasonic. They need to keep things simple.
“They keep on trying to compete with the big boys,” says Wallis. “They seem intent on getting down to compete with the Panasonics of the world, who are too big for them. Why not market [their plasmas] as a niche product?”
Both Merlino and Hales agree. “Their market space is a niche market,” says Merlino. “Let’s hope is doesn’t happen. Nobody at the moment will be able to fill that market if they go.”
“They are an elitist market and should market themselves that way,” said Hales. Hales was also more circumspect about the reasons for the company leaving these shores, if it does indeed happen. “Cheap Chinese product has taken away market share,” he says. “The consumer always wants a discount, so to be number one, manufacturers feel they have to be cheaper than their competitors. So you get into a downward spiral [of competition].”