Vizio Jumps Sony For #2 In US Flat-Panel Sales

Vizio showed up in style at CES 2009, and we're not just talking about the HDTVs it brought along. The company's balance sheet is looking about as healthy as any outfit's could possibly look these days, with it using momentum from the third quarter of last year to propel it right past Sony in Q4. No need to check your set -- we really just said that Vizio passed Sony for the number two spot in US flat-panel TV sales.

According to its Q4 numbers -- which were absolutely amazing, by the way -- the low-cost HDTV leader in the United States was able to overtake a TV mainstay in Sony during a quarter which saw the latter company struggle like it had never struggled before. Of note, Samsung is still clinging to the number one spot, but there's no doubt that it's paying close attention to Vizio's every move at this point. Vizio's sets are made by Taiwan's Amtran Technology, and they managed to make up 14.3 percent of all flat-panel TV shipments in the all important October to December time frame as consumers began craving lower cost goods during a deepening financial crisis.

iSuppli analyst Riddhi Patel noted that the company's success in the fourth quarter "was partly due to increasing brand recognition, courtesy of the company's strong marketing efforts and retail strategy," and while he never elaborated on what the "other part" was, it sure helped Vizio to move 1.2 million en route to its largest per quarter shipping quantity in the outfit's history. Just to put things in perspective, Vizio demonstrated 53 percent quarter-over-quarter flat-panel TV growth in Q4 2008, which is by far the strongest among the top ten brands for all of North America.

Not surprisingly, it's anticipated that Vizio will continue to grow in the coming months, despite the fact that consumers are apt to spend a bit less overall than in years past. Granted, it's low-cost approach is what will drive it in times where cash is tight, but don't be surprised if Vizio uses this spotlight to improve quality and really step up to take on the giants when they're weak.

Tags:  Sony, HDTV, VIZIO, Economy