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Mitsubishi Makes Big Business Out of HDTV

March 08, 1999|JONATHAN GAW

High-definition television is a small market, but it belongs to Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America Inc.

The Irvine-based manufacturer of projection screen televisions said last week that it had a 73% share of all high-definition televisions sold last year, far outpacing consumer electronics stalwarts such as Sony Electronics Inc., Zenith Electronics Corp., Sharp Electronics Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Mitsubishi sold the 9,639 units at prices ranging from $3,895 to $10,000.

From the launch of digital broadcasts last Nov. 1 through the end of the year, 13,176 digital televisions were sold overall, according to the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Assn.

But even though the figures are encouraging, HDTV hasn't smitten the majority of television buyers. More than $10 billion in home theater systems were sold last year, and most of them did not have advanced digital picture capabilities, the electronics manufacturers group said.

In December alone, 123,679 large-screen projection televisions were sold. For the year, U.S. consumers bought more than 22.2 million color televisions of all kinds, an impressive figure given that 97% of households already have a boob tube.

Mitsubishi, however, is making a big business out of the small market for HDTVs. The company has traditionally claimed about one-fifth of the market for projection screen televisions and expects to sell more than half of all HDTV sets this year.

The industry group expects about 15% of projection screen televisions sold this year to be HDTV sets, but Mitsubishi officials said the advanced televisions should make up about a third of its units sold and a significantly greater percentage of its revenue.

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