Home Theater Sales Buoyed by Good Economy
"Sales of large-screen, analog televisions experienced dramatic increases," the report states, "with revenues from projection televisions growing by 28%." Sales of direct-view televisions (measuring 25" diagonally or more) grew by 14%. The DVD player is another big winner, for manufacturers and retailers alike. The format really took off in 1999, after a somewhat uncertain ramp-up in 1998. Approximately 1.2 million DVD players were sold in the first quarter of 2000, representing revenue of $287 million. "Robust" is the CEA's description of DVD sales activity.
Audio equipment for home theater saw an increase of 27% over the same period a year ago. Best-sellers include receivers with A/V surround sound (a 21% increase) and "home-theater-in-a-box" packages, which rose by a whopping 51%.
The big rise in sales is partly attributable to the continuing momentum of the healthy US economy, and to the growing popularity of home theater. "Home theater has become an increasingly desirable experience for families," says CEA president Gary Shapiro. "It is an affordable, easy way for families to come together and enjoy a high-impact motion picture experience in the home, without sacrificing sound or video quality."
Park Ridge, New Jersey–based Sony Electronics (SEL) is among the companies enjoying the ride. SEL has reported a new sales record of $12.2 billion for the fiscal year 1999, ended March 31. That's an increase of 15% compared to 1998. Sony Electronics is the worldwide sales leader among Sony Corporation subsidiaries, according to a recent company press release. SEL's most popular products include FD Trinitron Wega TV sets, Digital 8 Handycam camcorders, Digital Mavica cameras, DVD-Video players, and VAIO notebook personal computers, said SEL president and COO Fujio Nishida in a New York press conference. "We achieved significant growth in the past year due to the continued success of our new digital A/V and IT devices," Nishida said. "We look forward to the challenges of the upcoming year as we migrate our products and services toward Internet and broadband platforms."
At the conference, Nishida announced three changes in SEL's top management team. First, Edward Grebow, president of SEL's Broadcast and Professional Company (BPC), has been promoted to deputy president of SEL. Grebow will continue as president of BPC, but will add a new role as head of SEL's "e-Transformation" office. This new office's mission has two parts: One is to continue to transform SEL's internal processes to an "e-platform," and the other is "to seek out new Internet and broadband business opportunities." Nobuyuki (Nick) Oneda, SEL's CFO, has been promoted to deputy president and is responsible for guiding SEL's North American engineering and manufacturing strategy, in addition to overall financial duties.
Nishida also announced that Michael A. Vitelli, a 20-year Sony veteran, has been named the new president of SEL's Consumer Electronics Group (CEG). Vitelli most recently served as an executive vice president of BPC. With VAIO computers now within its jurisdiction, CEG accounts for nearly two-thirds of SEL's overall sales.