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Tight LCD TV supply spurs 32-inch PDP comeback

Posted: 29 Oct 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:32-inch PDP? LCD TV? panel maker?

Don't look now but the 32-inch PDPs are making a comeback.

In Q2, LG Electronics brought the 32-inch VGA-resolution PDP back to meet rising demand spurred by constrained supplies of LCD TV panels of the same size. The reintroduction of the 32-inch size comes as a shift in direction for the PDP market, which has been focusing on large 40- to 44-inch and 50- to 59-inch panels.

iSuppli Corp. forecasts the global 34-inch and smaller PDP market will grow to 485,000 units by 2011, up from zero in 2006, and from 400,000 units shipped in 2007. While this volume and growth are not huge, they are enough to justify the market reintroduction by LG Electronics. The other panel makers are likely to follow should LG succeed.

"LG, with support from numerous Chinese PDP set makers, see an opportunity to reenter the 32-inch panel segment after they were forced to exit the market," said Riddhi Patel, principal analyst for TV systems at iSuppli. "The main factor forcing them out was the fact that PDPs could not compete in terms of price with LCD panels at this size. They also could not compete with the superior resolutions delivered by LCDs. But with the tightness affecting the LCD market, and with demand continuing to increase at this size, LG appears to be willing to take on this challenge again."

Price factor
Plunging prices are making PDPs more competitive at the 32-inch size. The ASP for PDP panels sized 34-inches and smaller will decline to $124 by 2011, down from a still cheap $215 in 2007. The ASP for 2006 is not available given that PDP vendors didn't sell any panels at the 34-inch and smaller size.

However, the PDP suppliers now face the same obstacle they did when the 32-inch PDP was in vogue in the 2004/2005 time frame: the VGA resolution of such panels delivers a far lower picture quality than that of a same-sized LCD. Despite this, LG's gambit is already showing some success in the Chinese market thanks to the attractive price point.

PDP market
While PDP panels are making a return in a size long thought dead, plasma systems actually are enjoying sales growth in the business market. One of the biggest reasons for this growth is the declining ASP of PDPs makes them compelling for the conference room and education markets. A growing number of PDP displays are being sold as replacements for projectors in conference rooms, for corporate training rooms and for lecture halls in order to accommodate a larger number of audience members.

The hospitality industry and those who maintain signage in indoor arenas also are taking advantage of the lower prices to upgrade picture quality and to capitalize on plasma's appealing form factor. Even more interesting are the emerging uses arising for plasma systems, including rental and staging markets; video walls using 84-inch and larger PDPs; transportation; financial exchanges and control rooms.

Global 34-inch and smaller PDP market will grow to 485,000 units by 2011.

Affordable pricing and an attractive form factor also are reasons why PDP system sales are still growing in the consumer market, although at a far more moderate pace than LCDs. The 50-inch PDPs are available for less than $2,000 and 42-inch models can be bought for a steal for $1,000 to $1,500. These prices are highly attractive to anyone who is looking at competing LCD technology. The pricing factor has bolstered PDP sales, despite the recent price reductions and higher resolutions for LCDs.

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