Mitsubishi Abandons LCD HDTVs

When you’ve got an also-ran share of an enormous market and there are no signs that you can make a substantial dent in the leaders’ share, what can you do? Mitsubishi has decided that if you can’t beat them, quit. In a press release last week, the company announced that it was leaving the LCD HDTV business. Instead, it will focus on its DLP rear projection HDTVs as well as front projectors and business display products. According to the release from Senior VP Cayce Blanchard, Mitsubishi will manufacture and sell microdisplay rear projection HDTVs in sizes 73″ and larger. (The company showed a 92″ model at CES 2011 in January.)

This is a daring maneuver, but I’m not sure what other choices the company has. Sales of rear projection HDTVs have dropped to the point of invisibility on most sales charts. At a time when consumers are dazzled by wafer-thin flat panels, the bulky rear projection models just don’t hold the same appeal no matter what advantages they may have. It remains true that rear projection remains an incredible bargain; Amazon has a 73″ Mitsubishi set for just $1,200 which is only 60% of Amazon’s lowest price for a much smaller 65″ plasma HDTV. Consumers want flat, however, and that’s where their money goes. Consumers are slowly realizing that their first HDTV was too small for the viewing distance, so there’s hope that Mitsubishi’s big screens will come into favor in time.

In the meantime, the company is “evaluating its dealer network,” according to its release. I suspect that this will mean greater focus on retail outlets where the price advantages can be highlighted, but that remains to be seen.