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TVs made by TCL Corp on display at a store in Changzhou, Jiangsu province. Ikea Group's UPPLEVA product line will use TCL Corp's smart TVs. [Photo/China Daily]
The Swedish home-furnishing company Ikea Group said it is joining TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed branch under the Chinese consumer electronics firm TCL Corp, to introduce a range of products that will bring together smart TVs with sound systems and furniture.
Named UPPLEVA, the products will first be sold this June in selected stores in Sweden, Poland, France, Germany and Italy, the company said in a statement.
It also said that stores in Denmark, Norway, Spain and Portugal and other countries will begin to sell the TV products in October and all of the company's remaining stores will have the products from 2013 onwards.
"The new integrated UPPLEVA TV, sound and furniture is a complete home furnishing solution, solving the challenge of living room clutter of cords and remote controls," said Linda Xu, public relations manager of Ikea China. "It offers a designed match between TV and furniture, with Internet access, a sound system and solutions for cable management. Only one remote control is needed to access all functions of the TV and sound solution."
"We think that the Ikea competence in home furnishing combined with the technical competence of TCL, one of the largest manufacturers of TVs and Blu-ray/DVD players in the world, is a good combination that will offer customers a great solution. TCL immediately understood our ambition in terms of developing unique and complete TV solutions from a home furnishing point of view and supported Ikea in making the right choices and by developing and manufacturing these products for us."
A recent study conducted by the market research institute YouGov found that three out of four respondents would like to see fewer of the cables that they use in their living rooms, and that 50 percent would like their technical gadgets to be less noticeable. It said 60 percent of all homes have three remote controls or more.
"UPPLEVA is an innovative step into a new market for Ikea," said Francis Cayouette, the designer of UPPLEVA. "The idea came from our visits to people's homes around the globe to understand their home furnishing needs and dreams. We realized that many people look for an attractive solution that takes care of the different media devices in a way that matches their furniture."
"That means that only at Ikea will customers be able to buy the complete solution of TV, sound and furniture all in one," Xu said. "And both the five-year guaranteed complete TV solutions and the individual articles will follow the Ikea pricing policy of always having the lowest price on comparable products."
"Global economic conditions have improved in 2011, but more slowly than expected, and consumers in mature TV markets like Europe face continuing uncertainty, which is leading to very cautious spending patterns," said Paul Gagnon, director of North America TV research for research firm NPD DisplaySearch. The company predicted that 254 million TVs will be shipped in 2012, an increase of 2 percent.
Tuo Yannan contributed to this story.