• The Associated Press

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Sony is doing booming business in India, dominating in flat-panel TVs and digital cameras, and is in good shape to keep growing in coming years, a top company executive has said in Tokyo.

Sony’s success in India — where a new middle class is snatching up gadgets — is a bright spot for the electronics maker, which is getting beaten in North America by U.S. rival Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea.

Sony Corp. has the No. 1 market share in flat-panel TVs in India at 34 percent and a 40 percent share of the digital camera market, according to the maker of Bravia TVs and Cybershot cameras. Sony is also No. 1 in India in home theaters and camcorders.

“We don’t rely on tricks or gimmicks to rise to the top,” Masaru Tamagawa, managing director of Sony’s India unit, told reporters Friday. “India is a success that can be held up as an example.”

Sony has lost money in its core TV business for six years straight and is on its way to another year of red ink in TVs for the fiscal year ending March 2011.

But Sony boasts a strong brand image in India thanks to its generous advertising spending. It also has good relations with the many small and midsize retailers across the nation of nearly 1.2 billion people, which reflects years of hard work, Tamagawa said.

Sony isn’t targeting newcomers into the middle class — which it defines as starting at an annual income of just over 180,000 rupees ($4,000) — who may buy 22-inch TVs. Instead, it aims for higher income groups of at least 451,000 rupees ($10,000) a year, who can afford to buy TVs 32 inches and larger.

Middle class Indian households are expected to outnumber Japanese households by 2012. There are already 10 million households earning between $10,000 and $20,000 a year in India, according to Tamagawa.

Before 2007, when old-style CRT TVs were popular, Sony controlled just 10 percent of the Indian market. Since then, the company has tripled its annual advertising investment.

India’s TV market is expected to grow to 4.5 million or 5 million units during the fiscal 2012, up from nearly 3 million now. Sony is hoping to get about 35 percent of those sales, which would total 1.7 million TVs.

Sony’s India success underlines how Japanese manufacturers, which have stumbled since the financial crisis in established markets like the U.S., can count on India, China and other fast-growing countries to bolster growth.

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