A steep decline in demand for flat-panel TVs could push smaller manufacturers out of the market, the Wall Street Journal reports. As the economy sours and larger makers achieve economies of scale, the price gap between top brands and cheaper rivals has shrunken dramatically. The top five makers accounted for 60% of sales in the third quarter of 2008, up from 53% year earlier.
The larger manufacturers, like Sony and Panasonic, were able to offer deep discounts during the poor holiday season because of efficiencies. Consumers already wary of budget models flocked to the sale models, and retailers are taking note. One executive said, given the situation, it was “extremely possible” that smaller, cheaper competitors like Vizio and Pioneer “are going to be squeezed.”