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Toshiba enters LCD market

Notebook vendor takes its shot in overcrowded Canadian LCD spacern

For years Toshiba of Canada’s Information Systems Group rejected the temptation of expanding beyond its popular notebooks. It felt other products, such as PCs, provide too little margin, or the markets were overcrowded.

But the Canadian subsidiary has changed its mind this month releasing two

LCD PC flat-panel monitors to the Canadian market.

Jason Laxamana, product manager, Toshiba ISG, based in Markham, Ont., said there are two reasons Toshiba is entering the market. The first is technological: Toshiba already produces LCD monitors for its notebooks, so the move is a natural progression into flat-panel monitors.

The second is that corporate and consumer customers who purchase Toshiba notebooks as desktop PC replacements were unable to expand their workspace.

“”It was the next logical step. Our notebooks can hook up to an external monitor and have applications running on both screens from the notebook. On the notebook screen you could have your Internet, while on the LCD monitor you could run Word or a spreadsheet program. It expands your work area for better efficiency,”” Laxamana said.

The Canadian LCD monitor market, according to a recent Evans Research report, is made up of 18 vendors. Some of the top-selling brands are Viewsonic, LG, Samsung and NEC-Mitsubishi. It also includes lesser-known vendors such as Hansol and Envision.

Toshiba’s LCD monitor line up consists of the LD17B101 17-inch flat panel display

and the LD19B101 19-inch flat panel display. The products range in price from $649 (17-inch model) to $949 (19-inch model).

The products will have no restrictions, Laxamana said, and will be available to resellers from Ingram Micro Canada, Tech Data Canada and Synnex Canada. Retailers Hartco (CompuSmart, Compucentre and others), Best Buy, Future Shop, London Drugs and Office Depot will carry the product.

According to Laxamana, Toshiba acknowledges the monitor market is overcrowded and wants to remain competitive with margins. Laxamana added that ballpark margins would around 15 per cent on the new Toshiba displays.

Frank Abate, president of Infinity Technologies of Mississauga, Ont., believes Toshiba can be successful in the tight monitor market.

“”They have a premium brand and plenty of loyal Toshiba customers in other industries, including IT,”” he said.

However, Abate said achieving success in this marketplace will not be easy and that Toshiba is late to the game.

Laxamana said the company is being realistic in its monitor business and does not expect to knock off established brands. But the subsidiary does want to be an alternative brand and expect to be a Top 10 player in six to 18 months.

Abate agrees with Laxamana that there is no room for vendor share shift. “”Toshiba’s displays will have to sell on its own merits to new customers,”” he added.

Beyond the two models, Laxamana said resellers should look for an expanded monitor line-up from the manufacturer.

There are two models for now because the company wants to make sure it enters the market properly with the right features and services, Laxamana said. “”Once we get our feet wet, we’ll expand the product offering.””

He said that Toshiba is interested in wide-screen displays mainly because customers are demanding wide-screen notebooks.