Sony came out on top of the LCD TV market in 2006 for the first time, according to figures published by DisplaySearch.

The company managed a 16 percent share of the market in revenue terms in 2006, giving it a percentage point lead over Samsung. Sharp, which has led the market until last year, fell to third place with an 11.5 percent share by revenue, said DisplaySearch.

Total shipments in the year amounted to 46.4 million units, a rise of 119 percent on 2005, the company said.

On a unit basis Samsung Electronics came out first with a 13.4 percent share followed by Philips at 13 percent, Sony at 11.6 percent, Sharp at 11.3 percent and LG at 7 percent.

Sony's rise to the top in unit shipments comes a little over two years after it began aggressively attacking the LCD TV market under the Bravia brand name. Prior to late 2005, when the Bravia brand first appeared, the company had been selling flat-panel TVs alongside CRT models, but was quickly losing market share and money by not fully embracing flat screens.

The company took losses in its LCD TV business for about two years while it established the Bravia brand. It’s now on track to meet its goal of returning to profitability in the second half of its current financial year, which is the period from October to March 2007.

Sony shipped 430,000 LCD TVs in fiscal year 2003, the first year it launched such sets, and has seen shipments rise ever since. In 2004 they hit the 1 million mark then climbed to 2.8 million in 2005. Sony expects shipments to hit 6 million units in the current year.