Thanks to the Diwali blockbuster in the 29-inch colour TV segment, companies are having a relook at their marketing strategies for the large-screen TVs based on conventional picture tubes.
While all attention had till now been fixed on the "sexy" panel market dominated by LCD and plasma TVs, companies like Samsung and LG have now decided to introduce the "poor man's large-screen TV" or the slim TV based on modifications to the existing picture-tube technology.
Samsung, which had launched a 32-inch version four months ago with a humble target of 5,000 units this year, has announced its intention of launching a 29-inch model and a 21-inch by early next year.
LG, which was "testing the waters" for the last two months with its version of the "shrunken tube technology", also plans to introduce its first large-screen model based on the technology in the next three months.
"Our sales of slim TVs have gone up astronomically," says Amitabh Tiwari, head of colour TV division at LG. After a soft launch in August this year, the company started advertising its only model in October. "From around 4,000 pieces a month, we sold no less than 15,500 in just the three weeks after we commenced our advertising campaign," Tiwari points out.
Add to this the evaporation of the myth that large-screen TVs with picture tubes won't sell—Videocon sold nearly half a lakh units last month—the companies are starting to see in the the slim-tube segment the "common man's plasma TV".
"We see it as a bridge between the bulky, but cheaper conventional large-screens and slimmer, but expensive LCD TVs in the future," says Ravinder Zutshi, deputy MD of Samsung India. He points out that while size may not be such big factor in the small screen segment, dedicating 10 square feet of living-room space is not an attractive proposition for most Indians.
"These TVs save around a third of the space occupied by a normal TV with the same screen-size and are more easy to manouvre," he points out, and adds that the company's Noida factory will soon join few plants anywhere in the world which manufacture such televisions. The company currently imports its sets from Korea.
LG, the only other company to have the technology in India, says it expects the technology to replace almost completely the one being used by TV manufacturers in India, most of whom source their picture tubes from only two Indian companies.
Like Samsung, the company too sources its picture-tubes from outside the country, from its hi-technology joint venture plant with Philips in Hong Kong.
"Currently, the tube is around 18 per cent costlier than conventional tubes" he said, adding, "but we expect it to come down from next year when we begin start mass production. In fact, next year we expect the reduced-behind technology to account for around 30 per cent of our volumes and account for most of our sales in the year after".