El Segundo, Calif. - U.S. flat-panel TV shipments are projected
to dip for the first time on an annual basis this year, ending an unbroken
string of growth since the market began, according to a new report from IHS iSuppli.
Shipments in 2012 of flat-panel TVs into the American market are
forecast to decline to 37.1 million units, down 5 percent from 39.1 million
units in 2011, the firm's U.S. TV Market Tracker reported. This follows a 1
percent growth last year from 38.6 million units in 2010.
Shipments of LCD TVs, plasma TVs and rear-projection TVs are
projected to continue to weaken for the next three years, until at least 2015.
"The U.S. flat-panel television market has never declined on an
annual basis, even at the height of the recession in 2008 and 2009," stated
Lisa Hatamiya, IHS TV research analyst. "The decline starting this year
suggests that demand may have crested for the mature U.S. TV market. Sales in
the United States now are being driven by consumers who are replacing their
older flat-panel sets with new models boasting more advanced features. This
contrasts with developing regions of the world where vibrant, untapped markets
remain for buyers making their first-ever purchase of flat-panel sets."
The declines will result
from a long-term maturation of the U.S. television market, in addition to "specific
supply and dynamic developments that occurred in 2011," iSuppli said.
The firm also blamed television brands being too optimistic last
year in believing that consumers were finally ready to buy new TVs as they
increased first quarter 2011 shipments. A negative chain reaction that lasted
through the year then ensued, iSuppli said, with sets being very aggressively
priced toward the third and fourth quarters to make up for the first half.
The price cuts dug deeper into already weak profits across the
board for most vendors.
As a result, brands will be very cautious in 2012, iSuppli predicted.
"Manufacturers will attempt to control new shipments into the
U.S. market, so that prices remain steady and won't drive as much demand as
last year," iSuppli said. "The attempt to rein in pricing could also prove
dicey, possibly risking the ire of a purchasing public used to discounting or a
pattern of gradually lower prices. The overall effect will serve to inhibit
shipments this year."
Due to the supply declines, the industry should become more profitable,
with less discounting bringing in more revenue, according to the report.
LCD TVs with LED
backlighting should become the dominant display technology in the United States
for the first time, iSuppli said. U.S. shipments of LED-backlit sets will reach
23.7 million units, compared with 8.7 million for CCFL models.
Last year, CCFL claimed higher shipment numbers, at 18.8 million
units, against 14.5 million for LED sets, iSuppli reported.
LED-backlit sets are expected to see rapid double-digit growth in
the upcoming years as brands focus on marketing this feature and making
LED-based models standard in their lineup. The technology will proliferate in small-
to medium-sized TV panels measuring 40 inches and smaller.
While U.S. flat-panel TV shipments are projected to move down, manufacturers
will continue to drive sales of TVs with increasingly more advanced features,
In other trends outlined in the study, LCD TV sales will continue
to transition to larger sizes. There will also be higher refresh rates (from 120Hz
refresh rates to 240Hz and 480Hz), FullHD 1080p resolution, embedded Internet-connectivity,
and increasing use of 3D features based on passive 3D glasses technology.