New species, giveaways and a fierce rivalry: the biggest stories of the year

Compiled by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: In Current.com.au’s final look back at the big stories of 2009, we focus today on the most popular articles in the digital retailer categories. These are the categories that the big boys play in, with brands including Samsung, Sony and Panasonic dominating the most popular news stories of the year.

The biggest story in this category, and the most viewed story on Current.com.au throughout 2009, was the release of Samsung’s LED televisions. Dubbed a ‘new species’ of television, the news of Samsung’s LED range spawned global interest in the South Korean manufacturer’s new venture, propelling the story, and the TV itself, to the top of the charts. By the end of the year, there was no doubt in the industry that this TV had been a huge success, with consumers and retailers – and that advertisement with the bird was pretty impressive too.

The year also witnessed an aggressive battle between Foxtel and TiVo to be the kings of TV content. Foxtel launched its new generation of channels and services, with HD being the centrepiece of this offering. TiVo countered this by releasing a new 320GB model and launching its Genie service for content on demand. This rivalry has emerged as one of the fiercest in the industry, with battlelines drawn over whether consumers should pay for content or receive it for free with advertisements. Judging by the feisty nature of both camps, 2010 should see this battle become even more intense.

Back in October, Christmas was just a flickering light on the horizon, and the Big Four suppliers each began ramping up their promotional activity in order to shore up their stake in the festive market. Whether it was the most successful in stores or not is yet to be realised, but Panasonic’s plasma TV giveaway, which involved consumers choosing one of three bonus gifts, was the popular with readers. Of the three bonus products on offer, the HD Blu-ray home theatre was the most popular with consumers.

One of the biggest stories from the start of the year, and the fourth biggest story in this category, was the launch of Freeview. Confusion as to what exactly Freeview is trying to accomplish propelled stories about the lobby group to the top of the most-read lists. Interest in Freeview was at its peak when the company made a number of bizarre choices, such as holding its launch event at a Dick Smith store, hence alienating the other retailers. But the biggest tactical error was Freeview’s decision to launch legal action against a satirical video on YouTube, a move CEO Robin Parkes later regretted.

Rounding out the top five on this list is Sony Australia’s decision to let go 32 employees at the start of the year. It was a very tough first six months for Sony Global, with losses reported across its ranges. By the end of the year, some new product releases, including high-end Bravia TVs at more attractive price points, had helped to stabilise the iconic brand. With the World Cup next year, Sony will be ramping up the promotions, and hoping for a return to its mega-successful roots.

Top 5 Digital Retailer Stories of the Year

1. Samsung Reveals LED, a ‘New Species’ of Television (biggest story of 2009)
2. TiVo Responds to Foxtel Challenge: ‘Nice Work, But We’re Better’
3. Panasonic Promotes New Plasma TVs with Huge Bonus Giveaway
4. Spite and PR Fuel Anti-Freeview Agenda in the Media
5. Sony Australia Lets 32 Employees Go

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