Yet another TV maker is calling it quits on the hyper-competitive US market, while keeping the brand name alive through licensing.
This time the victim is Sharp, which plans to sell its manufacturing plant in Mexico and license its brand name to Hisense for the Americas, Reuters reports. The news follows an especially rough quarter for Sharp, in which it posted an operating loss of nearly $232 million.
"Sharp has not been able to fully adapt to the intensifying market competition, which led to significantly lower profits compared to the initial projections for the previous fiscal year, and has been suffering from poor earnings performance," the company said in a statement.
Sharp is also considering a wider overhaul of its consumer electronics and LCD panel divisions as it tries to turn its fortunes around. While the company is best known for its Aquos televisions, it also sells home speaker systems, and has dabbled in US smartphone sales with the bezel-free Aquos Crystal handset. Its IGZO display tech has also appeared in phones and tablets from other companies.
Sharp isn't the only Japanese electronics maker to bail on the TV market. In January, Toshiba announced that it would stop making TVs in North America and license the brand to Taiwan-based Compal Electronics. Panasonic also abandoned the US market last October, handing its Sanyo TV unit to Japan-based Funai Electric.
The impact on you at home: The average shopper probably won't notice much of a change. Both Sharp and HiSense use Roku software for their smart TVs in the United States, though Sharp has also used Android TV, and it's unclear whether HiSense will continue to do so. As for hardware, TV makers' inability to distinguish themselves is one reason once-proud brands like Sharp are struggling in the first place. Sharp's exit is just the latest sign of how hard it's become for TV makers to succeed as prices fall, and new technology like 3D and 4K fail to spur sales growth.