Flat Panel TV’s On The Rise

For the first quarter of 2004, makers of thin-film transistor (TFT) liquid crystal displays (LCDs) larger than 10″ diagonally should see an increase in revenue of more than 90%, the report claims. Manufacturers of such devices enjoyed a 47% rise in revenue during the fourth fiscal quarter of 2003, with a year-over-year increase of 64% in production, reaching a record high 26.7 million units. That number exceeded predictions by more than half a million units.

Fabrication plants are working “round the clock” to meet demand for flat-panels, especially larger high-resolution units, the report notes. During the most recent quarter, LCD TV module shipments rose 56% from the previous quarter and 241% year-over-year, reaching 1.3 million units. “LCD TV modules are expected to continue enjoying the fastest growth, up 53% quarter to quarter and 238% year-over-year,” according to DisplaySearch.

Companies from every corner of the electronics industry are jumping into the flat-panel business. Computer makers Gateway and Dell have been in it for many months; Hewlett-Packard recently announced its intentions of marketing its own flat-panel TVs by spring 2004. Motorola and Westinghouse, two companies long absent from the consumer electronics arena, have announced plans to do likewise. Camera maker Canon is reportedly working closely with Toshiba on a new flat-panel technology called “surface emitter diode” (SED), claimed to offer better brightness, color and contrast than plasma displays, and better efficiency than LCDs. The partners may demonstrate prototypes at the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show, according to industry gossip.

The good news for consumers: Flat-panel supplies will definitely increase, and as they do, prices will drop. Analysts at the Consumer Electronics Association are predicting a decline in prices for flat-panels next year, by as much as 30% by late summer 2004.