After a 20-year gap, General Electric is returning to television-set making in partnership with a Taiwanese company to launch GE-branded high definition TV sets.

The joint venture between GE and Tatung Co – to be called General Displays & Technologies (GDT) – intends to produce two million HDTV sets annually, or 1 per cent of the 200 million units sold world-wide, when it begins production in 2009.

The companies expect to capture approximately 5-10 per cent of the estimated USD $200 billion global TV-set market.
GE made cathode-ray-tube television sets from 1939 until 1987.

Peter Weedfald, president of GDT North America and global chief marketing officer for the joint venture, said it intends to be a "premium brand" that will be "very competitive with current leadership brands."

The company will be based in Chino, California, and will produce some sets in Mexico.

The company will stick solely to LCD technologies due to the power consumption benefits and the technology’s ability to deliver innovative new designs, such as thinner form factors.

One model in the initial line will offer LED backlighting, but more are expected in subsequent offerings.

GDT’s plans also include a Blu-ray Disc player with BD-Live capability.

Since 2004, GE looked at 10 potential partners before choosing Tatung. The decision was based on Tatung’s leadering position in Taiwan and in display technology.

"It’s a small bet for GE," says Marc Bertino, vice president of trademark licensing at GE. "It’s just an easy way to get into a high-growth market with a great partner."

Tatung has invested USD $16.1 million for a 51 per cent stake in the venture.

Founded in 1918, the company is Taiwan’s oldest home-appliance maker and also makes computer, communications, consumer-electronics and solar-energy products.

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