Pioneer made top-of-the-line plasma HDTVs when it exited the television business. It was known for its Elite brand, which was sold through professional AV retailers. Sharp has now decided to resurrect the brand and license it for its own LCD HDTVs. Pioneer will still use the brand on its home theater products and Blu-ray players.
Presumably, Sharp has access to the Elite brand name in part because it owns a part of Pioneer, and both companies will market the Elite HDTVs.
This is an interesting — if not desperate — move on the part of Sharp. The company’s market share in the U.S. has shrunk to tiny levels and it trails most of the other major brands. The professional AV channel is not a great place to look for help, however. With luxury housing starts at all-time lows, this market segment continues to decline and several big names in the business have closed shop or are in trouble. Even Mitsubishi which used to rely on specialty retailers now is focusing on broader sales outlets for their products.
It doesn’t seem that adding a high-end product line is going to be much help to Sharp, but it will be difficult for the company to grow its share of the retail sales no matter what strategy it pursues.