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LCD TVs sold in Costco, Wal-Mart make best-seller in North America

When it comes to household names in cutting edge televisions, the first that come to mind are Sony, Philips, Sharp, and in recent years, Samsung. But all those companies have recently been elbowed aside by a relatively unknown newcomer.

According to a recent report by iSuppli, Vizio in the second quarter shipped 606,402 LCD-TVs in North America, up a stunning 76.4 percent increase from 343,704 in the first quarter. The sales surge caused Vizio to jump from the fifth-placed North American brand in the first quarter to top in the second quarter.

In comparison, Japanese electronics giant Sony slipped from third place to sixth place, with the company’s shipments declining to 263,377 units in the second quarter, down 36.1 percent from 412,323 in the first quarter. Sharp, on the other hand, gained a position to hit third, though iSuppli believes that is due to an increased availability of Sharp’s eighth-generation panels.

ISuppli analysts believe that Vizio’s mass-market retail approach is what gave it the edge over the electronics veterans.

“Vizio’s success is mainly due to the company expanding its retail presence to Wal-Mart and Sears at the beginning of the second quarter,” said Riddhi Patel, principal analyst, television systems for iSuppli. “The company already was selling its LCD TVs through the warehouse stores Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ's Wholesale Club—but the addition of the two new retailers gave Vizio’s sales a significant lift.”

On the whole, the entire LCD TV market experienced growth throughout the year. LCD TV shipments increased to 4.2 million units in the second quarter, up 14.9 percent from 3.7 million units in the first. Vizio leads LCD TV sales in sets that are 47-inch and smaller – with the 32-inch model being the most popular size in North America.

When LCD technology first launched in the TV market, North American consumers gravitated towards the trusted brands of established electronics makers. As the technology becomes more familiar to consumers, iSuppli believes that consumer attitudes shift to become more price sensitive.

“Americans have grown comfortable with value brands, making Vizio’s low-cost sets an alluring alternative to the established names,” Patel said.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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