LCD TV shipments slip for FIRST TIME EVER
Industry in crisis?
TV makers are desperate for the Next Big Thing. It's not hard to see why: even LCD TV sales are now falling. Year-on-year LCD shipments fell for the first time ever during Q1, market watcher NPD DisplaySearch said today.
It was a small dip - down just three per cent - but symptomatic of an industry in decline. Other technologies have risen and fallen, but LCD shipments have always continued to grow. Until now.
LCD dominates the TV business, accounting for 84.2 per cent of shipments in Q1 2012. CRT - still selling after all these years - was next, with a share of 9.9 per cent, almost double plasma's 5.8 per cent share.
Plasma is hanging on because of demand for low-cost 2D models among cost-conscious consumers.
Not so OLED. Samsung and LG may have shown off snazzy 55in models during January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but neither they nor other vendors actually shipped any - or at least not in sufficient volumes to give the technology anything more than a zero per cent share after rounding.
Q1 2012 Flat-panel TV Makers Market Shares
Data source: DisplaySearch
The TV market as a whole was down eight per cent year on year to 51m units, DisplaySearch said. Just over 43m of them were LCDs.
Among flat-panel telly makers, Samsung was the only one to increase its share of the market, experiencing year-on-year growth of nine per cent. Sony and Panasonic saw the biggest declines, their shipments falling 21 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively.
Roll on Ultra HD, then... ®
Well, once you have a nice big LCD TV in your living room and a couple of small ones dotted about the house, you probably won't be replacing them for years, certainly not for every fad that comes along.
Short of exploding TV's, of course sales will plateau without some incentive. The incentive, though, is not 3D or HHHHHD, or some other gimmick any more.
When LCD TV's came out, we started to replace our huge cubical boxes with them because - and this is pretty much the biggest selling point of an LCD - you could hang them flush on the wall and regain 16 or so cubic feet of space for no loss. When HD came out, it didn't really hit home (and I still see people playing SD content on HD TV's and gasping over it without realising) but, along with digital TV and the LCD space-saving incentive, it was the right time to change hardware and almost everyone did. At once. Now. Done. Finished. Even grandmas had to change their telly to keep watching Corrie, so they did, got themselves some room in the corner of their living room, and carried on.
What's to change that for again? Maybe some early adopters missed out on the HD-ness, or the digital-side but they've rebought or compensated for that mistake now. So all you're seeing are natural, base-line sales after everyone's upgraded to the superior product (for many reasons, combining to a SINGLE upgrade for each TV over the last few years).
You can't keep making people upgrade things like that without an incentive and, really, what's the incentive now? 3D? No thanks. A lot of people can't even see it or it affects their vision so you can't just bundle it by default either (poor sods with vision in only one eye probably REFUSE to upgrade to it, even for free, for instance).
I have deliberately put off buying an LCD TV until it settled, for instance, and that point was probably last year. The problem is - my TV still works and in 4:3 is actually giving a bigger image on widescreen content than a lot of widescreens (so it's actually a loss to all of my stored 4:3 content to upgrade to anything that isn't something ridiculous like 40"). I don't need the space but may be moving soon and, yes, probably then I will buy myself a nice LCD TV to get the most out of a having a bigger room with no cabling worries.
But after that? What do they expect me to do? Just keep buying TV's for no benefit? It ain't going to happen. For a few hundred quid, I can get a 36" LCD TV with Ethernet, Twin-SCART, quad-HDMI, VGA, DVI, Composite and even Aerial in, with Freeview tuner, interactive content, DLNA access, internet-browsing, USB ports, smartphone control, less energy consumption than my old CRT, and more knobs and whistles than I can shake a stick at. Precisely what else do they think I *need*, to the point I will throw all that away to buy something else, if I already have that?
The market "dwindling" isn't news. It's just hit peak and now we can get back to normality until some moron decides that 1080p isn't enough and we all need to have 7 million HD channels and not just a few thousand ordinary channels on our digital TV.
It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'
Once people have replaced all their CRTs and small LCDs, they will stick with what they have until it breaks, and the market will reach saturation.
Once a technology matures (and this is any technology) so that further improvements no longer enhance the perceived customer experience, it becomes driven only by replacing broken instances of the technology. I think we can see this from the dip in computer sales, which will be echoed in laptop and tablets over the coming years. TVs just have had a longer journey, although if you look at LCD TVs, that chapter has been quite short.
I personally can't wait for this time to happen, because we just can't continue making new things with short lifetimes. Will break Capitalism, though!
People have upgraded to Digital/HD now and are good for a few years at least.
Like the upgrade to CD give sales a big boost the upgrade to LCD is not something that will go on forever. The attempt to get people to upgrade again with DVD Audio failed and the attempt to get people to upgrade again with 3D or "smart" TV is almot sure to have little effect.
Re: Count me as one who hasn't
"I would lose screen size watching 4:3 content."
Not if you make sure that the vertical dimension of the screen is the same you wouldn't.
Unless of course you're one of these complete bleedin' idiots who reckon that "black bars" are some TV company conspiracy to deprive you of the use of your pixels............
Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'
Have to say, I agree with grandparent post here. Nothing lasts nowadays as well as it used to. Unless you we're very unlucky washing machines would go for 15 years no fuss, tvs - not unusual to get 20 years out of one. Nowadays everything is built down to tolerances so fine, you are lucky to get 5 years. I mean, it just does not make sense for manufacturers to make things that last ages, they need to drive the price down as low as they can get it and you don't get that by over-engineering anything. You get exceptions, of course - Miele is one brand that springs to mind, but their washers for example start at around 4 or 5 times the price of your basic hoover, hotpoint or zanussi appliance. It's all about inbuilt-obsolesence, gets the customers coming back for more stuff more often. Oh, they might not choose your product next time, but you'll pick up as many ticked-off customers from your competitors as they pick up from you. There's a reason we're all CONSUMERS nowadays, and not CUSTOMERS anymore.