Do We Need Another HDTV Brand?

According to a news report in TWICE yesterday, audio maker Sherwood is planning to release a pair of TVs at CEDIA next week. According to the article, the LCD HDTVs will be a 32″ WXGA model and a 42″ 1080p moodel. No prices or distribution information was available, though they are apparently scheduled to ship in December.

Without the pricing or channel information, it’s hard to analyze this move, but it does have me scratching my head a bit. With big name brands like Philips abandoning the North American market and licensing its brand to Funai, what hope can a new entry have of getting shelf space? Sherwood does have a pretty good reputation in the audio market, but Pro A/V dealers already have a glut of high-end products to choose from for their showrooms, and it seems unlikely that Sherwood is going to bump a Sony or a Pioneer off the shelf.

If Sherwood plans to offer a quality product at a competitive price, then their existing relationships with high-end audio retailers won’t be of much help. Competing with a Vizio or a Westinghouse product that is already well established in the discount store channels will be a serious challenge.

And even if the brand could exert some pull for retailers, a two-model line-up is not much of a start. It would seem that you’d need at least one product in the 50″ range, as this has been the recession-proof size for high-end customers. Finally, shipping product like these in December seems a bit like starting presidential campaign after half the primaries have already been held. It will be hard to establish market share or mindshare halfway through the holiday buying season.

So I certainly wish Sherwood well on their launch of their new flat panel HDTV line, but I’m skeptical about whether or not there will be any new models beyond these two.