From Phosphors to Pixels: The Rise and Fall of TV Empires

The tricky business of manufacturing TVs has bounced around the globe for decades. Will China be the next powerhouse, or maybe even the US?

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The Digital World Beyond

From its first serious foray into the TV market, it took Sony less than twenty years to go from near-obscurity to dominant force and household name. Samsung, a part of the flat panel market from the start, took it over in less ten. Vizio didn’t even exist before 2002, and already the company is the only serious rival for Samsung (in market share at least, in profit, Vizio is way lower).

It’s possible we’ll look back at CES 2013 as the start of the big push from China by Chinese companies. Unlike shifts in the past, however, there isn’t one single brand leading the charge alone. Depending on how you look at it, the capitalistic competition between different Chinese companies is either ironic, or indicative of how immense China is. It’s possible there won’t be a single Chinese electronics leader. But to assume there won’t be any serious Chinese competitors lacks any historical precedent.

It’s possible we’ll look back at CES 2013 as the start of the big push from China by Chinese companies. Tweet It

From here, two outcomes are possible. A few Chinese companies will emerge to compete with the top-tier brands like Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic. Not just on the price front, but on a quality and performance front (where they can). We’re seeing a marketing push beginning from the likes of Hisense and TCL, the latter buying the naming rights to the Hollywood’s famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater, now called the TCL Chinese Theater.

TCL-Chinese-Theater-590.jpg
The famous Grauman's Chinese Theater became the TCL Chinese theater after the electronics giant purchased it in 2013.

“Our goal is to gain a prominent position and make TCL a household brand in each of the categories of TV, mobile communication, and home appliances," says TCL’s Li Dong Sheng. So it’s possible, in less than 10 year’s time, we’ll talk about TCL or another Chinese company in the same breath as Sony and Samsung. At the same time, other brands, focusing on the low end, never achieve enough market share to be considered “competition” for the big brands.

Or, and this is perhaps even more likely, multiple Chinese brands hit the market, some working their way towards top-tier quality and performance, others focusing on the low end. All start taking serious market share from the Japanese and Korean companies. If this is the case, in less than 10 year’s time, the “market leader” may only be a fraction of a percentage higher than the rest.

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Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. From America to Japan
  3. "Annyeonghaseyo," says South Korea
  4. "Ni Hao," responds China
  5. The Digital World Beyond
  6. The Tiny Global World

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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