IKEA Television: What Gives?

Have you seen the new IKEA Uppleva television? It apparently is designed to make it easy for consumers to choose a new HDTV that fits in with their Scandinavian decor. The set hasn’t been released in this country yet, so we don’t know what the price will be. Without this detail, it’s hard to assess the value of this new product, but it clearly marks some interesting changes in the market.

First, if you don’t think that the LCD TV has reached the commodity stage, this should convince you. Here’s a television branded not by any consumer electronics giant, but a furniture maker. This also conveys a message that this set will be as easy to install and use as the IKEA furniture (or with any luck, even easier). It bundles everything for you, including a Blu-ray player.

It is also interesting that a furniture maker should decide to market its own TV. I remember when Magnavox made a big deal about the furniture surrounding its massive cathode ray tube console sets, but I can’t remember another case where that was turned around.

And you don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed by a lot of choices. The Uplevva comes in three sizes; that’s it. You don’t have to deal with a lot of the specifications that you might encounter in an electronics store, such as lcd vs. plasma tv, or whether the screen is 120 Hz or not, if it supports 3D TV, or how the contrast ratio compares. Just pick the television that fits your space and you’re good to go.

Is this the start of a trend? Will you be able to buy a television branded by Sterns and Foster that is designed just for your bedroom? Maybe the major supermarket chains will offer their own television brands; buy one at Thanksgiving and get a free turkey. The price of a flat screen tv has fallen to the point where they could be sold by retailers other than the traditional consumer electronics, shopping club, and discount chains. IKEA could be the bellwether for a whole new approach to selling televisions.

You can be sure that the Uppleva experiment will be watched closely to see if it is a strategy worth emulating. Of course, the company may have to endure a little rib-pocking before the new HDTV can be deemed a success, as has already been ably demonstrated by late night television host Conan O’Brien:

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