Toshiba to end CRT TV sales in Japan, rebrand LCD range

Toshiba plans to end sales of CRT (cathode ray tube) and analog-tuner equipped LCD televisions in Japan from April this year, it said Tuesday.

Toshiba plans to end sales of CRT (cathode ray tube) and analog-tuner equipped LCD (liquid crystal display) televisions in Japan from April this year, it said Tuesday.

The company will instead concentrate its efforts on rebranding and promoting its digital LCD televisions, said Satoshi Niikura, executive vice president of Toshiba's digital media network company, at a Tokyo news conference. The digital TV market is growing fast in Japan after the launch of terrestrial digital TV broadcasting in late 2004.

Overall LCD TV sales were 4.4 million units last year and surpassed sales of CRT sets for the first time. For this year Toshiba anticipates LCD TV sales will grow to 6 million units, and further to 7 million units in 2007. In contrast, the CRT TV market is seen contracting from 3.5 million sets in 2005 to 900,000 sets in 2007. The company expects to sell 650,000 PDP (plasma display panel) TV sets in 2007.

The year is unlikely to see any significant sales of SED (surface-conduction electron-emitter display) panel sets, Niikura said. Toshiba and Canon Inc. have been developing the technology for some time and have a joint production line in the Tokyo suburbs but commercial products are yet to be seen. Toshiba had originally promised SED televisions last year and is currently targeting them in small volumes during the "spring" of this year but a decision on whether the technology is ready for use in a commercial product is yet to be made.

Following the lead of several of its largest competitors, Toshiba plans to unify branding of its flat-panel television sets worldwide under a single name, the company also announced.

Toshiba, which has been using the "Face" brand in Japan and some other international markets and no brand in other countries, will unify its entire LCD (liquid crystal display), PDP (plasma display panel) and projection TV models under the "Regza" brand name, said Niikura. Regza comes from the German "regsam," a word which connotes vibrant and dynamic qualities.

In the flat-panel TV world Sony relaunched its products under the "Bravia" brand name last year and Sharp has been using the "Aquos" brand on its LCD TVs for some years. Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) sells its sets in some markets including Japan under the "Viera" brand name.

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Martyn Williams

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