Who says the PC market is dead? Despite a flood of computing products in the market with everything from netbooks to ultrabooks and tablets, Vizio believes that not only is there room for its new PC products, but that consumers have been deprived of choice.
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The privately-held company threw a launch party in NYC last night to debut five new personal computing products. The premiere, while relatively small, boasts a thoughtful offering. The portfolio includes “Road Warrior” branded ultrabooks, a “Portable Powerhouse” laptop for work and play, and desktop computers that are “designed to awe and built to entertain.”
Irvine-based Vizio has dominated the LCD HDTV market and now hopes to leverage its success in this brand-new industry using the same retail channel and product strategy that won it success with TVs.
In an industry where the buzz seems to be dominated by Apple (AAPL), Vizio says its products are “the best Windows machines in the world.” And with a starting price point of $898, the company seems to be targeting could-be Apple customers head-on with high-end products and household name recognition. But that’s where the parallels end. The TV sector was much less crowded when Vizio entered 10 years ago and on the cusp of a major growth trajectory; the same cannot be said of the PC market today.
The company makes its high-profile and costly foray at a time that reports show PC growth is eroding, thanks to the popularity of the tablet. IDC predicts worldwide personal-computer shipments will grow 5% in 2012 with the majority of growth occurring in emerging markets. Mature markets like the U.S. and crisis-ridden Europe saw a drop off in PC sales of 9% last year, also according to IDC, making Vizio’s U.S.-centric strategy risky.
Ready to use right out of the box, the new Vizio lineup doesn’t attempt to lure customers with cheap thrills and frills. Instead, it boasts sleek, high-end designs, the latest Intel processors and the latest Microsoft (MSFT) Windows operating system. A big key to its success will be its retail distribution strategy, as the computers will be sold in the same locations its TVs are sold. Big box retailers including Walmart (WMT), Costco, BJs and even Microsoft’s retail locations have signed on as partners.
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Vizio’s newest products are available for preorder today on Walmart.com and will be available in store in 3-4 weeks, according to the company.