Consumer electronics companies bless World Cup

Executives at the world's biggest high-tech fair, the CeBIT in Germany, said the 2006 FIFA~World Cup is a "godsend" for the market in flat-screen TVs, high-definition television (HDTV) and new mobile phones that can transmit broadcasts. "For them, it is the big date not to be missed," Paul Jackson, an analyst of media devices and marketing at Forrester Research, said of the major manufacturers.

"The European market will be fuelled by the World Cup," Hans Kleis, CEO of Sharp Europe, agreed. The Japanese electronics group is counting on doubling its liquid crystal display (LCD) television unit sales in Europe this year. Meanwhile the global market is set to expand to 36 million sets from 20 million in 2005.

From Toshiba, which is marketing the Qosimo G30 laptop with a free ticket to a World Cup game, to chip maker Intel, which invited football players to its CeBIT stand for a promotional event for a new video game, companies are increasingly turning to the World Cup to generate consumer enthusiasm.

"World Cup years always have strong sales growth for televisions and other accompanying accessories such as DVD players," said Philippe Poels, president of the French consumer electronics manufacturers association. In France, which hosted the tournament in 1998, the sector saw growth of more than 10%. "It created a lot of momentum which it managed to maintain for two or three years," Poels said.

Philips, an official World Cup sponsor, is also launching a new line of products to coincide with the event, according to Rudy Provoost, CEO of the Dutch group's consumer electronics division. "With our investment in such a partnership, we hope to win market share," he said, adding that the company was banking on consumers deciding there was no better time to trade in their old sets for flat screens and HDTV.

See also: World Cup a "unique catalyst" for LCD TV sales (22 Dec)