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EXCLUSIVE: New January 2010 GFK sales data that was leaked to ChannelNews reveals that Sony has slumped into 4th spot in the Australia flat-panel TV market, with Samsung, Panasonic and LG now ahead of the struggling Japanese company.GFK weekly research also reveals that the market in February has gone soft, with retailers now discounting stock in an effort to shift inventory ahead of new 2010 models that include a new generation of 3D flat-panel TVs.

The slump in Sony’s market share follows the withdrawal of a major marketing campaign by the Japanese company, which, in an effort to stimulate sales running into December and January, gave away the new slim PS3 gaming console and free Blu-ray players with the sale of selected Sony Bravia TVs. The company also slashed the prices of its TVs in an effort to compete with a surging Samsung.

According to the latest GFK data, Samsung, with 17.5 per cent market share, was number one in January; its was followed by Panasonic with its plasma range at 15.7 per cent. In third spot was a surging LG, which has seen its market share climb from sub 10 per cent prior to Xmas to 13.6 per cent in January 2010.

In fifth spot was Toshiba with 4.6 per cent share, followed by Hisense, which in December had climbed into fourth spot with its combo TV offering.

According to GFK sources, the preliminary data will be extremely close to the final data, despite the exclusion of JB Hi-Fi TV sales in December, when the mass retailer stopped GFK from collecting data in its stores.

According to Mr Mark Whittard, the Managing Director of Toshiba, the exclusion of JB Hi-Fi will have an impact on the accuracy of TV sales data moving forward. “JB Hi Fi is a major retailer and it sells a lot of product, so over time the omission of its sales data will impact the accuracy of the GFK data,” he said.

Locally GFK is refusing to say how it aims to compensate for the omission of the JB Hi-Fi data, which in some categories could account for up to 30 per cent of the entire Australian market.

 

In April, a major flat-panel TV battle is set to break out, with both Samsung and LG set to launch new 3D plasma TV offerings that could impact Panasonic.

According to Mr Mark Leathan, the head of CE Marketing at Samsung, the company is set to revisit its plasma TV offering after admitting that in 2009 its focus had been more on LED and LCD than on plasma. “We have a stunning new plasma 3D offering that will compete head-on with Panasonic, so I am confident that we can take market share away from them in 2010,” he said.

According to the latest GFK data, Panasonic has reached the number two spot overall by primarily selling 50″ and above plasma display screens, while its competition has been selling a combination of LED and LCD.

Mr Steve Rust, the Managing Director of Panasonic, said that he is not concerned and that he “welcomes” increased competition in the plasma market.

“If LG and Samsung start pushing Plasma alongside their other offerings, we believe it will grow the plasma category and we welcome this, because we have a strong brand that is associated with plasma and we have the best plasma technology in the market,” Mr Rust said.

Mr Carl Rose, the Managing Director of Sony Australia, has refused to comment on his company’s problems.

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