Sharp which last month made a significant investment in the struggling Pioneer Electronics is now the number one LCD TV company in the world according to research group Display Search. Also announced was a 17 percent decline in plasma sales.

Key to Sharp’s growth was the all important USA market where Sharp led with an 11.3 percent share, rising from No. 3 in the second quarter of 2007 on 65 percent quarter-to-quarter and 88 percent year-to-year growth.

DisplaySearch attributed the growth to rapidly growing internal panel capacity, with Sharp accounting for “the fastest sequential TFT LCD supply growth of any panel supplier, up 36 percent quarter to quarter as it continues to ramp its 8Gen fab”.

In the US market Vizio fell to No. 2, despite 334 percent year-to-year growth; it had the slowest quarter-to-quarter growth of the top five. DisplaySearch attributed the slower third-quarter sequential growth to the less seasonal nature of its primary sales channel.

Vizio was No. 1 in 32-inch and larger volume and in LCD HDTV volume, the research firm said. It also led in 32, 37 and 42 inches. Samsung fell from No. 2 to No. 3, despite 33 percent quarter-to-quarter and 79 percent year-to-year growth. It was No. 2 in 40-inch and larger volume.

Sony had the fastest quarter-to-quarter growth of the top five brands up 108 percent, and 84 percent year-to-year. This came from the introduction of new products later this year than last year, while also targeting mass merchants like Wal-Mart through the new M series.

As a result, Sony’s unit ranking rose from No. 7 to No. 4, and it jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 in revenues.

Sony had the highest focus on 40-inch and larger LCD TVs which accounted for 67 percent of its volume. It led at 40 to 42 inches and 46 to 47 inches, DisplaySearch said.

In plasma TVs, Panasonic continued to lead, earning a 30 percent share on 11 percent quarter-to-quarter growth; however, on a year-to-year basis, Panasonic’s volume was down 28 percent after it shipped an excessive number of plasma TVs into North America a year ago when the European market stalled after the World Cup, according to the firm.

With Panasonic down, the total plasma TV market in the US was down 17 percent year-to-year to a preliminary total of 866,000 units.