Samsung in the third quarter retook the No.-1 ranking in the U.S. LCD-TV market from chief competitor Vizio, according to iSuppli.

The iSuppli research shows the South Korean electronics giant shipped 1.3 million LCD-TVs in the United States during the period from July through September, equaling a 16.8 percent share of the market.

This gave Samsung a 1.1 percentage point lead over U.S.-based Vizio, which held a 15.7 percent share in the third quarter with shipments of 1.2 million LCD-TVs.

The last time Samsung held the top spot in the U.S. LCD-TV market was in the fourth quarter of 2008. “Vizio in the first and second quarters of 2009 took the lead in the United States as consumers warmed to its low-cost, full-featured sets sold through high-volume retailers like Wal-Mart,” the report says.

“However, Samsung in the second quarter began to regain momentum and increase its market share as the company focused on advanced LED-backlit LCD-TVs and reduced prices for its high-end sets.”

According to Riddhi Patel, principal analyst, television systems, for iSuppli, Samsung is leading the LCD-TV industry’s adoption of LED backlighting technology.

“The company has been marketing these sets intensely, attracting the interest of U.S. consumers. Consumers like LED-backlit LCD-TVs because of their ultra-thin form factors. With Samsung cutting the prices of these sets aggressively, they now are becoming increasingly affordable for a larger number of U.S. consumers,” she said.

The report also shows that the United States now leads the world in sales of LCD-TVs with LED backlights: LED-backlit sets accounted for 3.7 percent of total U.S. LCD-TV shipments in the third quarter, up from 2.1 percent in the second.

Samsung in October was selling 55-inch LED-backlit LCD TVs for $2,650, just $325 more than for equivalent-sized and featured sets using conventional Cold-Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (CCFL) backlighting technology.

“This low price point and minimal gap with CCFL sets represents a critical price threshold for LED-backlit sets, making them more acceptable to U.S. consumers,” Patel said.

She adds that most of the Top-5 LCD-TV brands in the U.S. saw their shipments and market shares decline in the third quarter compared to the second, as smaller companies increased their sales.

iSuppli predicts the fourth quarter, which brings the Christmas selling season, will bring stronger shipment growth because of aggressive discounts for full-featured LCD-TVs.

“Furthermore, retailers are expected to offer attractive deals on product bundles. Such bundles will include LCD-TVs sold with Blu-ray players, surround-sound systems, DVRs, game consoles, and installation services. Premium brands such as Samsung, LG and Sony are expected to lead the way with these packaged deals,” Patel said.

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