The Mysterious Company Behind the Best-Selling TV in America

oCosmo's 40-inch LED HDTV -- the best-selling TV in America? Source: Amazon.com

It's cheap. It's high-quality. It's the No. 1 best selling television on Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) , the No. 3 "most wished for"  -- but good luck getting your hands on one.

"oCosmo" is its name, and this Christmas sales season, beating every other television manufacturer on the planet appears to be its game. But who exactly is oCosmo, and why can't you buy it?

Actually, that's quite a story.

A (very short) history of oCosmo
If the name "oCosmo" doesn't ring a bell for you, that's not surprising. The brand burst onto the scene this year, almost literally out of nowhere. As explained on the company's website, although it is run by folks with "over two decade of experiences as veterans in the display and sound industry" [sic] oCosmo was only founded in "early 2013."

Where did this company come from? The short answer is that it appears to be a "luxury" division of the same privately controlled company, Sceptre Technologies, which owns the Sceptre brand of low-cost flat-screen TVs. Not coincidentally, Sceptre has been in business since 1984 -- which explains oCosmo's "two decade" boast.

Both oCosmo and Sceptre share the same address in City of Industry, Calif. Calls placed to oCosmo enter a voice mail system that begins with the announcement: "Thank you for calling Sceptre, where quality meets affordability." Phone reps then explain that oCosmo is alternately a "sister brand" of Sceptre, or else the company's "high-end" brand.

So hopefully that clears that up.

Short history, (too?) big success
What's really interesting about oCosmo, of course, is how quickly it has risen to prominence without any pre-existing product loyalty to support its success.

As of this moment when I am writing, Sceptre ranks as the No. 1 top-selling TV at Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) . At one point in the midst of the Christmas selling season, oCosmo TVs controlled three of the top 10 slots for "best selling" TVs on Amazon.com. At one point Friday, while two of its models had fallen off the list, oCosmo's 32-inch, 720p, 60Hz LED HDTV remained the No. 1 best-seller on Amazon's website -- at a price of just $179.99. Oops. Just clicked again. Now it appears to only be available from a third-party seller at a price of $299.

One reason that only one oCosmo model remains on the top 10 list (albeit, at absolute "No. 1") is that oCosmo quickly became a victim of its own success.

Multiple times over the past few weeks, searches for its products revealed that Amazon had none left in stock. They simply sold out, and most remain sold-out to this day.

Is it a bargain?
But why is that? I mean, combine an as-yet no-name brand name with a super-low product price, and it's only logical that consumers might fear the TV is too good to be true -- that oCosmo is "cheap for a reason," and therefore a product to be avoided.

Two facts argue against jumping to this conclusion, however, and they explain the company's wildfire success.

First and foremost is Amazon's ballyhooed product rating system. oCosmo's best-selling 32-inch LED carries a strong rating of four out of five possible stars on Amazon -- about equal to the rating on a 32-inch 1080p Samsung that costs $110 more and ranks in only third place.

oCosmo's 47-inch, 1080p HDTV scored even better (as of this writing when it was still available). It collected a whopping four-and-a-half stars -- a half-step ahead of a monster 65-inch Panasonic (NASDAQOTH: PCRFY  ) Viera plasma TV that cost 10 times more than the oCosmo, and lagging behind only the five-star rating given to a 55-inch Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) that cost eight times as much.

As for the second reason behind oCosmo's success -- and a selling point for the product. Well, just wait until you hear this.

A surprise ending
If you happen to get hold of that 40-incher, take it home and try to program a universal remote controller to operate it, and it turns out that the manufacturer remote codes that the "oCosmo" responds to are -- wait for it -- Sony's.

Does this mean that oCosmo is really a contract manufacturer for Sony, and that its TVs are functional equivalents of Sony sets that retail for nearly twice the price of an oCosmo?

I honestly don't know. But if that's the case -- it would tend to explain why the oCosmos garner such high ratings from consumers, and why oCosmo has suddenly become the best-selling TV manufacturer in America.

Source: Sony

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Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (35)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 1:27 AM, Elbowpong wrote:

    "stars" on reviews only matter if you're comparing products in the same price/feature range. A four star Panasonic 60" plasma is still going to be a far better television than a 47" oCosmo that got four and a half stars. You're comparing apples and prunes. How does the 60" Panasonic stack up to other 60" plasmas with similar features? That's what you should be comparing it to.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 9:50 AM, canerom wrote:

    Elbowpong you are right stars and reviews mean nothing you cant compare a oCOSMO tv to a Panasonic ZT OR VT series because the picture quality is not the same.now reviews matter when they are coming from experts who do this for a living and the only reason the Panasonic does not get five star is because of the price I am lucky enough to owen a pioneer pro 151 elite which I believe is one of the best flat panel TV ever made and plasma is so much better the LCD or LED and people who are waiting for on OLED to become cheaper and more reliable there wait just got longer because Panasonic and sony just pulled out of OLED business because of price and reliability

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 9:55 AM, reddwarfone wrote:

    oCosmo is not available in my city. But it may show up soon. Privately owned electronic stores in my area have a habit of selling brands the big chain stores don't carry. The brands I have found that are selling are Vizio, Element, LG, and Panasonic. When I have asked people at Walmart or Best Buy why they have a certain brand TV in their cart, most of the time they tell me it is the low price. Tough economic times are making consumers price shop more than ever. But the big name brands are always trying to lure the customer with innovations like 3-D and Smart TV's that have full internet access.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 1:35 PM, j1rose wrote:

    so when is a # 1 tv not a # 1 tv -

    when it isn't sold by sears, bestbuy, walmart, kmart, hhgregg .

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 2:47 PM, OffDWall wrote:

    I bought from Sceptre since the 90's when I found out that, at that time, they were the only US manufacturer of CRT monitors. I worked for the largest distributor and started pushing their products to my customers. Sceptre didn't let me down, they had a great track record and my returns were below the other super brands, plus they were one of the few that were PC and Mac capable right out of the box. Glad to hear they are still going strong and that I can probably trust them to be in business next year too. To me, service is every bit as important as the product itself.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 3:45 PM, SOBEflyGuy wrote:

    More, and more people are catching on to the fact that if you have done the research, know the product that you're going to buy, a "Brand Name" means nothing, the quality of the product is the sale!

    If you wear eye gasses by now you know the gig!

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 4:52 PM, Robarino wrote:

    The fact that the remote control codes are the same as Sony's doesn't mean it's made by Sony. You may notice some remote controls have a given code stamped on the back; IR5, IR6, iH6 etc. This designates the InfraRed Codes used by all remote controls. They standardized this years ago. It's up to the manufacturer to choose which group of IR codes they need for their device. Universal Remote controls wouldn't work unless all manufacturers followed this standard set of IR Codes.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2013, at 6:20 AM, Agaveman69 wrote:

    What makes " 32-inch, 720p, 60Hz LED HDTV " high end when that is low end specifications? At Wal-Mart they have " 32-inch, 1080p 60Hz LED HDTV " for $20 dollars more, made by Who? Sceptre the not so high end sister company.

  • Report this Comment On July 01, 2014, at 6:12 PM, deverts wrote:

    I finally found on THIS site that the CRTs were made in the USA; are the LED TVs also made in the USA? A "yes" will change the balance into whether or not I buy an oCosmo TV/DVD combo which I have charted out along with 8 others. Otherwise it's still tied with another brand.

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