Can Sony Reverse Declining TV Sales With Bravia Android Smart TVs?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sony (SNE) is confident its television business will turn a profit this year after a decade of losses, but industry trends suggest it may be easier said than done.

Masashi Imamura -- the head of Sony's new TV unit, which will become a separate subsidiary of Sony on July 1 -- told the media on Monday that he was "confident" the company's TV business would grow stronger as a standalone company.

Imamura said his company could better respond to market fluctuations after cutting fixed costs last year and handling expenses at distribution companies in the future.

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Imamura's confidence is a welcome change for Sony's struggling TV unit, but industry trends signal that diminishing TV sales may not be exclusive to Sony.

IHS Technology, which tracks sales trends in the television industry, was unavailable to comment on the decline of TV sales over the past decade, but did point to a study it released earlier this year.

The study shows that the U.S. television market experienced a 9% loss in unit sales last year due to low demand.

Low demand was attributed to market saturation. Consumers have little interest in buying new TVs after upgrading to high-definition, flat screen models less than 10 years ago.

U.S. TV shipments in 2013 declined to 34 million units, compared to 37.5 million units in 2012, the report stated.

"The TV market in the United States has reached a point of saturation following a period of huge growth in years past, especially as the flat-panel-TV craze set in," IHS TV analyst Veronica Gonzalez-Thayer explained in the report. "As a result of the market's maturity, and also because of lingering uncertainties in the economy, American consumers have been less eager to rush out and buy new replacement TV sets."

This finding suggests that although Sony is treating the problem as company-specific, underlying trends in consumer behavior could be the main culprit of declining U.S. television sales.

A bright spot in the report, however, shows that there has been an increase in the shipments of large "smart TVs," which have features such as Internet connectivity and full high-definition 1080p resolution.

But can Sony's TVs compete more broadly?

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