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Taiwan Council: TV Prices May Be Going Up

More indications that LCD TV price increases might be on the way: In a recent blog I reported that display industry analysts had confirmed that LCD panel manufacturers had been raising prices to TV makers by a couple of dollars per panel on mostly smaller screen (sub-40-inch) product since January. 

Those same analysts also offered the common opinion that those price increases were very unlikely to carry through to the street-level, because prices just don’t go up on most consumer electronics products in the United States — especially TVs. 

(Shortly thereafter, some retailers reported that a few secondary TV brands were in fact asking modest price increases on small screen LCD TVs.) 

On Thursday I received a report from the Taiwan External Trade Development Council warning TV shoppers that the time to buy a flat-screen TV may be now, when prices are still low. 

Henry Wang, principal of Witsview Technology, a Taipei-based market research firm, said LCD panel prices plummeted by nearly 50 percent last year as the global economy entered a slump. Now prices have stabilized and are likely to start rising later this year, the council reported him saying. 

“Customer demand is getting stronger,” Wang said. “We expect price increases to pick up pace in May.” 

Taiwan LCD makers account for nearly half of the world’s LCD production, and many brands such as Olevia, now owned by Taiwan’s Kolin Group and Vizio, which is 24 percent owned by Taiwan’s Amtran Technology, have taken advantage of manufacturing partnerships to capture large shares of the global market for LCD TVs. 

Witsview said that LCD TV prices have fallen so much that it has generated huge demand from China’s 1.3 billion population, which is putting more pressure on manufacturers to raise prices. 

The council said five Taiwanese companies are making LCD panels, including AU Optoelectronics., Chi Mei Optoelectronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Hannstar Display and Innolux Display. 

Chi Mei and Hannstar have also established the Chimei and Hannspree LCD TV brands. 

Meanwhile, expect to be hearing more from Taiwan’s set manufacturers shortly. The council said Taiwan’s government has made “the development of branding the key task for raising the competitiveness of Taiwan’s economy. There are two ultimate goals of the Branding Taiwan program. The first is integrating resources to help establish brands and create a favorable environment for development. The second is to help Taiwan enterprises develop brands and increase their value.”