The worldwide market for flat-panel-display televisions (FPD TV) grew in the double digits during August, powered by rising shipments from Chinese manufacturers for that country’s important mid-autumn festival, according to a new report from the TV Systems Intelligence service from IHS Inc.
Global shipments of flat-panel-display televisions jumped 21 percent in August from a month earlier to reach 17.9 million units, comprising 17.1 million liquid-crystal display televisions (LCD TV) and 803,000 plasma sets.
LCD TV shipments were up 22 percent from July, while those for plasma rose 5 percent. Total shipments rose as China prepared for festivities in connection with the lunar calendar’s harvest moon celebrations, marked by increased spending on consumer goods as is typical during Chinese festivals and holidays.
Still, shipments in both segments were down from year-ago levels despite the positive momentum for the month. When viewed on an annual basis, the LCD sector was off by nearly 6 percent, while the plasma segment was down an even steeper 26 percent—in keeping with the continuing slide of that market for some time now.
Overall, global flat-panel TV shipments were down 7 percent in August, the third straight month of decline compared to their levels during the same time a year ago in 2012.
Panel makers on the whole continue to be conservative in their plans, and shipment volumes in September and October were expected to be down from year-ago volumes when final figures are released. Shipments are then predicted to pick up in November, in time for the holiday sales season.
For the Black Friday period after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, aggressively priced low-end televisions are anticipated to hit the market, as was seen in previous years. In particular, competition among low- to medium-priced brands is likely to intensify this year because of falling panel prices.
Among the global brands, the Japanese are expected to stay on the competitive sidelines as their TV business remains in a slump. Meanwhile, South Korean electronics giant Samsung, believed to have been experiencing a hard time reaching this year’s sales targets, is preparing for aggressive promotions throughout the second half to catch up on sluggish sales so far in 2013.
New curved displays unveiled
Eight months after TV brands introduced large curved organic light-emitting-diode (OLED) sets at the January CES show in Las Vegas, Sony in September introduced a new curved TV at the IFA trade show in Berlin. Sony now joins LG and Samsung in offering curved televisions, but both Sony and Samsung now have curved TVs featuring LCD LED backlighting technology.
Sony’s move could threaten the future of OLED TVs in general, especially if the LED-backlit version provides images deemed to be as clear and compelling as their much more expensive OLED counterparts. With potentially little differentiation to be seen, and in view of continuing slow progress in OLED TV production technology, the chances for success for OLED TVs could diminish, IHS believes.
And regardless of whether OLED or LED technology is utilized, curved TVs face uncertain prospects in becoming part of mainstream viewing. While larger screens purportedly increase the level of immersion in the TV viewing experience, smaller sizes can limit the viewing angle in curved TVs because of the screen’s curvature. As a result, curved TVs could very well end up as high-end products in niche markets, fueled just by the interest of select circles on flexible-display smart gadgets.
The IFA event also saw the introduction of ultra-high-definition OLED sets, including 55-inch versions from Samsung and Panasonic, as well as a behemoth 77-inch set from LG. Commercialization, however, has yet to gain traction, and manufacturers overall continue to face challenges in improving OLED production yields in their attempts to compete with LCDs and LEDs.
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