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The SMB Apple Should Watch
 

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It's an eight year old company based in Irvine, California with just over 300 employees. The consumer electronics company has annual sales of over $2.5 billion and is expected to break $3 billion this year. Since coming on the scene in 2002, it has toppled Samsung as the number one seller of LCD televisions in the United States.

It's Vizio and it just announced plans to start selling smartphones and tablets next.

So what has made Vizio so successful in recent years?

Vizio operates lean and mean, drop shipping its televisions, blu-ray players and even network routers directly from China to Wal-Mart, Target, Costco and other popular hubs for bargain shopping here in the States. Lean and mean translates to cut-rate prices. For example, Vizio just announced the first sub-$300 3D TV set.

Vizio's new smartphone will be called the Via Phone. It will have a four inch screen, front facing camera and shoot video. The tablet, called the Via Tablet, will have an eight inch screen, as well as a front facing camera that will work for video conferencing. Both will run on Android.

Vizio says it has a carrier lined up for the phone, but not the tablet which will only come with WiFi. The lack of 3G will be a significant drawback. It's pros are significant, as well, however.

Both will have the built-in ability to function as a remote for your home theater devices. The user interface for internet access on Vizio players and televisions will be universal on the phone and tablets, as well. In fact, with its upcoming video streaming service called Vizio on Demand, users will be able to start a movie on their Blu-ray player and finish it on their tablet or vice versa.

Both devices, debuting later this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will also have HDMI ports making it possible to hook them up to the home theater and share your little screen on the big screen.

Keep in mind, Vizio has sold more than 30 million televisions in this country since 2002. That's a significant customer base to market to with tablets and phones, especially if they do it with the same cut-rate pricing strategy that they will surely do.

By the way, Vizio created the Via Phone and Via Tablet with a development team of less than ten employees.

I wonder what the other 290 people do all day in Irvine.

Both products will be hitting store shelves by summer.

On an unrelated note: Happy Birthday to Kyle Fletcher of Thomaston, GA. I hope your Auburn Tigers give you a national championship one week from today. WDE!

Last updated: Jan 3, 2011




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