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End of an era: Toshiba will shutter U.S. TV division [Update]

Toshiba TVs CES 2014
Image used with permission by copyright holder
A few weeks back, Toshiba announced the brand would not be bringing any new TV models to the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a seminal event that marks the debut of the latest TV lineups for many major TV manufacturers. The news sparked fears that Toshiba would be exiting the U.S. TV market completely, and this week those fears were confirmed.

As was reported by Reuters, Toshiba announced Thursday a complete shutdown of TV sales and production in North America, with other global markets likely to follow. The company will license the Toshiba brand to Taiwan’s Compal Electronics in the U.S. and elsewhere. In other words, the Toshiba name won’t be going away in the U.S., but for all intents and purposes, Toshiba televisions in North America will soon cease to exist. Toshiba will continue to produce TVs in its native Japan.

The decision comes after a period of increased pressure on the brand from growing global competition, forcing extremely aggressive pricing that became too much for Toshiba to bear. The company was reportedly unable to respond to the marketplace, despite an attempt to lower costs and efforts to get into the lucrative market of large-scale flat screen sales.

“We will quit operating TV businesses ourselves overseas,” Executive Vice President Keizo Maeda said in a statement Thursday.

Toshiba TVs CES 2014
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While the news isn’t a shocking revelation considering the ground Toshiba has lost in the marketplace lately, it’s a big hit to a company that once reigned as a leading manufacturer in large rear projection TVs, and large-scale CRT TVs. As Twice noted in early January, the company’s slow response to the evolution of digital flat panel LCD TVs, as well as a loss of retail might with Best Buy and other appliance chains, allowed competitors to eclipse the company in sales.

With the rise of the Korean giants LG and Samsung, increased pressure from mid-tier competitors like Vizio, and a better footing in the U.S. market for Chinese manufacturers such as Hisense and TCL, Toshiba has had trouble keeping pace in the new age of HDTVs. In fact, the company’s meager 3.7 percent market share of total North American TV revenue in 2012 slid all the way to 1.7 percent in 2014, according to research site DisplaySearch. In comparison, Vizio moved from 11.1 percent to 16 percent in that same period.

While the company will live on abroad in name, this week we witness the end of an era for an iconic name in the industry.

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Ryan Waniata
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