A man looks at Panasonic TV sets at an electronic shop in Tokyo

Flat out but failing

Flatscreen TVs will yet again be heavily marketed and discounted this Christmas, a blow for some of the leading manufacturers.

Panasonic and Sharp, two popular brands at different ends of the pricing scale, are among those Japanese electronics giants for whom the sales boom in panel TVs over the years has not been manna from heaven.

Far from it. Too many companies came into this marketplace, and price competition has been fierce.

In November, both Panasonic and Sharp predicted major losses for the year to the end of March 2013.

In both cases, big write-offs are having to be made because of apparently unfruitful investments.

In other words, they pursued the wrong strategies and may have to restructure their businesses.

By contrast, Europe’s biggest electronics manufacturer has been doing precisely that in the past couple of years.

Philips has made strategic shifts in its product focus and has slashed its costs.

As a result, in October the Dutch company reported strong sales and profits for the third quarter, sharply beating analysts’ expectations.

The company’s shift away from consumer electronics towards lighting technology and healthcare equipment has borne fruit.

While Panasonic tried and failed to compete in the smartphone sector, Korean rivals who have the technology and nous to take on Apple in this arena have been reaping rewards.

Samsung’s Galaxy range has been a winner, and LG has shown that it too can make profits from this marketplace.

However, the test for Samsung and LG is to continue making money from handsets, where technology seems to move at the speed of light.

Meanwhile, Panasonic and Sharp will have their work cut out in trying to find profits in an overcrowded consumer electronics marketplace.

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