"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.
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.