The announcement that Ikea will launch a TV range shows what is so wrong and right with the industry. It’s a cliché to say that the TV is more than a gadget but also a piece of furniture, but Ikea has really proved it.
The TV will be available in a variety of screen sizes, with a base unit incorporating a receiver module and disk player. As several screen sizes are available, it is likely that the screen part is a dumb HDMI monitor. Reportedly, TCL will be manufacturing the electronics.
That highlights what is wrong with the industry. While some consumers are likely to think twice before buying an Ikea TV, concerned about the quality of the image or other performance attributes, Ikea is offering a five year guarantee, which at least addresses reliability concerns. But any consumer encountering a Japanese name on the set would have felt instantly reassured and bought in even more confidence. So why was this opportunity missed by the Japanese? Without doubt, Ikea drives a hard bargain, but the inability to compete on cost (even with brand equity adding value) is surely important. So either Japanese setmakers couldn’t compete, or ignored the built-in furniture opportunity even though some of the Ikea TV furniture costs as much as a 32” TV!