Very soon, if not already, a hotel without flat screen TVs is as likely to find takers as one without wireless internet or even a gym. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports on the incredible success story behind Vizio, an Irvine CA based (the units are manufactured in Taiwan) seller of flat screen TVs whose meteoric rise, that begun a mere six years ago, is reflected in its sales growth that has “multiplied to just under $2 billion last year, up from $700 million in 2006 and $142 million in 2005!”. An interesting aside is that the company’s founder, Taiwan born William Wang, sought an eponymous initial – W only to find out that Starwood already had a lock on that letter. Mr. Wang then settled for the letter “V”.
While Philips Electronic NV, the electronics giant from the Netherlands, has pulled out of prominent hotel industry shows citing a foundering TV business, Vizio, instead, seems to have pulled out all the stops to step in to the gap. With prices – for domestic models without a pro-idium card – for as little as $750 per set, the Vizio could soon find its way into hotels. Vizio’s efforts have, expectedly, spawned imitators who, per the Journal article include Syntax-Brillian Corp., the Tempe, Ariz., seller of the low-cost Olevia brand of TVs, (who) works with electronics manufacturer Taiwan Kolin Co., which bought a 12.5% stake in the TV maker in 2006. Also in the run is flat-panel TV maker Westinghouse Digital Electronics LLC of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., which works closely with Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp., Taiwan’s second-largest maker of LCD panels. All of this “commoditization” of technology augurs well for keeping costs down in an otherwise inflationary environment for supplies in the hospitality industry.