One of the biggest surprises during this year’s IFA in Berlin was China’s TCL product called Ice Screen. The 25-inch smart display reportedly offers the same functionalities as today’s tablets but at the same time aiming to capture the fast changing TV habits of the youth market. Designed to deployed in China, TCL works closely with Internet provider Tencent. The product will be the first of its kind, utilizing the world’s first large screen intelligent product.
“It is not just for TV, as the younger generation doesn’t watch TV like the older generation,” says Hao Yi, general manager of TCL Multimedia Emerging Market Business Center.
TCL’s primary market is the huge Chinese populace but the company is looking beyond China’s borders. The company reported a 36.7 percent increase in total sales compared to last year, with marked increase in its LED backlight LCD sets division. Its overseas market also reported a huge 36.5 percent in total sales compared to last year’s record.
Half of the company’s total sales come from China while the remainder is split between its overseas markets, with Latin America as the main driver. TCL sets were sold in the United States a few years ago under the brand name RCA. Yi said that the company’s change in perspective prompted it to again promote its products under the TCL brand name. the company has an ongoing deal with Thomson in Europe.
“We are investing in a new brand image, so that is why we solely run with the TCL brand in the United States and North America, while we will continue to have dual brands in Europe with both TCL and the Thomson brand,” Yi was quoted as saying.
The strategy in Europe was meant to channel products to two groups of consumers: the younger group for TCL products, and the Thomson brand for the “established family brand.”
As the company set its sights to Europe, Latin America, and North America, it does not want to lose focus in mainland China. For Chinese TV makers, the TV market is their main focus. Even as TCL expands its reach abroad, the main thrust of its efforts is still directed towards satisfaction of Chinese customers.
China is now considered that largest TV market in the world. The country is currently consuming 47 to 55 million TV sets every year. The figure dwarfs the sales in the United States at 40 million.
Part of TCL’s enthusiasm springs from the fact that its Asian rivals have scaled back their production numbers. Japanese TV makers are struggling to compete with China’s cheaper TV sets, prompting them to lower their volumes. So while Japan’s TV production decreases, China’s own are gaining momentum.
The new Ice Screen is but one of the new products designed to attract the youth market. There is no international version of the product yet but Yi said it has a good potential to hit homerun in the international arena. For TCL, the key is to find a provider for content, and that is provided by Tencent, which is considered the MSN or Facebook equivalent in China. Tencent has reportedly tallied about a billion user in the country. For Yi, the success of Ice Screen requires a strong provider of internet content, which Tencent can very well give.