TCL, a Force in Global TVs Ups Its Game
September 16, 2019
TCL started as one of a thousand factories in China, making stuff for others – maybe not in mom’s garage, but perhaps down the street from it. Now it’s determined to turn those humble beginnings into an empire, to topple South Korean rivals Samsung and LG just as those companies upended the world while Japan’s giants sat back and watched. “The chairman started this company as a simple manufacturing company, and only in the last ten years did the idea of building the brand became a prominent issue,” Wiebo Vaartjes, CEO of TCL Entertainment Solutions, said, “So we are not building a business, we are not building some products. We are building a brand.”
In an exclusive interview after the company’s IFA 2019 press conference, Vaartjes and fellow Dutchman Jeroen Steenblik, Business Leader for the new Smart Audio division, explained where the company is headed, what consumers really want — and why smart appliances are sometimes the dumbest things in the world.
The company has carved a niche in the TV market; it announced in June that global TV sales were up 24 percent, and overall sales volume of smart TVs (including 4K models) increased nearly 16 million units, according to Moor Insights & Strategy.
TCL sold more than 28 million sets worldwide last year, and looks poised to grow this year, relying on quantumdot technology and FALD. It is one of 4 companies that are totally integrated in that they produce the displays (CSoT), assemble the TVs and sell under their own brand. TCL already makes products in dozens or even hundreds of categories, almost none of which sell outside of China. But TCL is moving into audio products and has a new strategy to reinvigorate its smartphone products, including the development of a foldable device.