Plasma display sales soaring, researcher finds

By Spencer Chin
EE Times
juni 28, 2004 (8:00 PM EDT)

MANHASSET, N.Y. — Though liquid-crystal displays are receiving the lion's share of attention in the growing flat-panel TV market, plasma displays have also seen a surge of interest, according to a market researcher.

In its quarterly report of the plasma display market, DisplaySearch Inc. (Austin, Texas) said plasma display unit shipments to the TV and public display markets reached 669,000 units the first quarter of 2004, up 127 percent over a year ago. In addition, plasma display market revenue reached $1.02 billion, up 88 percent year to year and the first time quarterly revenue has soared over $1 billion, the report said.

Plasma displays, while providing a flat, thin profile consumers crave, have traditionally been characterized as costly and inefficient to manufacture. At the same time, the technology has suffered from performance limitations, such as the tendency for the display's brightness to degrade over time. But as plasma display makers address those limitations, they are starting to carve a niche in the market for 42-inch and larger TVs, where they compete directly with rear-projection units.

"With plasma display manufacturers improving performance and enjoying significant supply-chain advantages over microdisplay rear-projection and LCD TVs suffering from component constraints, the outlook for PDPs has never been brighter," said Ross Young, an analyst for DisplaySearch. "We expect PDPs to overtake rear-projection TVs at 40 to 49 inches in 2004 with the price gap between PDPs and microdisplay rear-projection TVs narrowing significantly over the next few years."

Over the past four months, street prices of 42-inch, high-definition plasma TVs have fallen 14 percent, with 50-inch versions down 10 percent, the report said.

According to DisplaySearch, Samsung SDI of South Korea overtook Fujitsu-Hitachi Plasma as the leading plasma display supplier in both units and revenue during the first quarter, earning a 24-percent share of market unit shipments and 22 percent of market revenue. LGE and Matsushita were the third and fourth leading suppliers, respectively.