Sony to Produce 3 Millionth Made-in-Japan LCD TV

Sony’s main LCD (liquid crystal display) TV factory in Japan is due to produce its 3 millionth flat-panel television set on Wednesday.

The landmark is being reached just over five months since the factory produced its 2 millionth LCD TV set and less than two years since it started LCD TV production, said Etsuro Yamamoto, general manager of flat-screen TV production at factory-operator Sony EMCS, in an interview.

Sony Headquarters
Sony Headquarters

The pace of production is testament to the rapid growth in the LCD TV market that has come from consumer demand sparked by lower prices.

Global LCD TV shipments totaled 9.4 million units in the second quarter of this year, according to DisplaySearch. That’s a jump of 35 percent on the same period in 2005. Sony ranked fourth in market share at 11 percent but its concentration on large-screen models, which are more expensive, meant the company enjoyed the top rank in terms of revenue at 15.1 percent, according to DisplaySearch.

The Sony factory, in Inazawa near Nagoya in central Japan, began producing Trinitron televisions since 1969 but production of cathode ray tube (CRT) models ended in late 2004 and the facility was retooled in four months to handle LCD TV production.

When production restarted on March 3, 2005, the factory was responsible for producing LCD TVs for all regions but today it produces models for Japan, other Asian markets and Australia and New Zealand. The increasing popularity of LCD TVs around the world has pushed Sony to spread production of LCD TV sets between Inazawa and factories in Mexico and Spain. Last week Sony said it would open a second LCD TV plant in Europe. The factory, in Slovakia, is due to begin production in September next year.

However Inazawa remains a "mother factory" and produces partly-assembled TV sets for the factories in Spain and Mexico at which country-specific components, such as power supplies and tuners, are added to result in a finished TV set.

Sony is locked in a competitive battle with companies such as Sharp and Samsung Electronics for leadership in the LCD TV market.

This year is the first in which Sony expects LCD TV shipments to surpass those of CRT sets. Including sets sourced from OEM (original equipment manufacturer) makers, Sony shipped 2.8 million LCD sets in the year to the end of March 2006 and expects to ship 6 million in the current fiscal year. CRT shipments are expected to be 5.5 million sets this year and projection TV set shipments to be 1.8 million.

-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)

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