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Forecast Season in Full Swing

Dec 8, 2005 8:00 AM


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Is what’s good for the consumer TV business going to be good for professional and corporate AV specialists? Next year may not settle the question, but it will produce more evidence. Diverse industry observers are beginning to weigh in with their forecasts for 2006.

The immersion of corporate video into the consumer electronics market has had a variety of impacts, not all of them positive. On the plus side, the vastly larger production quantities required by consumer video has helped drive prices down for almost every technology, and the promise of huge markets has arguably accelerated the development of new technologies like SED from Toshiba and Canon and Sony’s SXRD displays.

DisplaySearch predicts the market for flat-panel public displays in general will reach $3 billion by 2009, based on what it terms an “explosive” compound annual growth rate of 36 percent between 2004 and 2009. Corporate conference centers, electronic menu boards, sale signage, flight information displays, and other applications are all hungry for ever-larger flat panel displays, and vendors are responding with plasmas as large as 71in. and LCDs that are breaking out of their home turf in the below-40in. segment.

This booming demand in corporate and business applications has drawn some major players who had previously targeted consumer buyers. Dell, for instance, announced in November two new widescreen high-definition LCD displays optimized for hotels, restaurants, offices, and airports. They’re 32in. and 37in. wide, aggressively priced, and equipped for remote and network-based control, which attracts users rolling out large numbers of displays.

"The new TVs enable Dell to offer hospitality and other enterprise customers a comprehensive source for large-format TV displays as well as client systems, servers, storage, and services," says Gerry Smith, vice president of Dell displays.

All of this popularity, though, is already showing at least one downside: Shortages have been widely reported in glass panels for plasma displays. “With 2006 PDP supply growing at less than half the rate of 2005 supply, 2H’06 PDP supply should be a significant concern to the PDP TV industry with double-digit shortages possible in Q4’06,” DisplaySearch says.

“Slower supply growth will cause shortages to persist and prices to fall more slowly, which will open the door for the LCD TV industry to narrow the price gap and increase their market share, because supply should not be a concern to the LCD TV industry next year,” DisplaySearch adds.

Not everyone is so sanguine about LCD supplies. Insight Media cites several reports that vendors are experiencing a shortage of 32in. LCD panels. Additional manufacturing capacity is on the way, though, including several new plants in China, which should close the gap early in 2006.

Next year, in short, should see larger and cheaper displays in plasma and LCD, more penetration of LCD into larger display sizes, a continuing boom in flat-panel TV sales to consumers, and an even more vague dividing line between consumer and pro markets.



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