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IHS: Initial 4K LCD TV Sales To Be Marginal

El Segundo, Calif. — Consumer demand for new 4K ultra-high-definition TV displays will remain quite small for at least the next five years, according to a new study released by market research firm IHS iSuppli.

The IHS iSuppli “Television Market Tracker Report” said shipments of high-profile 4K displays from Sony, LG, Toshiba and others will remain less than 1 percent of the global LCD TV market for at least the next half decade, before worldwide shipments climb to 2.1 million units in 2017, (or 0.8 percent of the global LCD TV supply). That will be up from just 4,000 units that are expected to sell this year, the study predicts.

LCD TVs are called “4K” or ultra-high-definition when they have a dense pixel structure of 3,840 by 2,160 dots, or four times the pixel count of today’s FullHD 1,920 by 1,080p TVs.

Introductions of 84-inch 4K LCD televisions were recently announced by Sony ($25,000 suggested retail) and LG Electronics ($20,000). Toshiba offers a 55-inch model at $10,000 in Japan.

Hisense and Konka of China have also announced plans for 84-inch 4K sets later this year.

However, IHS said it believes that neither consumers nor television brands will have the interest required to make the 4K LCD TV market successful.

“If you have a television that is 60 inches or larger and are watching video that has a 3,840 by 2,160 resolution, then a 4K television makes sense,” said Tom Morrod, IHS TV systems and technology research director. “However, a very limited amount of content is available at the 4K resolution. Meanwhile, because of high prices and other issues, the market for super-sized, 60-inch and larger sets is very small — at only about 1.5 percent of total television shipments in 2012. Furthermore, for most people, the 1,080p resolution is good enough. Because of these factors, combined with the massive price tags, the market for 4K sets during the next few years will be limited to very wealthy consumers or to commercial uses.”

 He added that 4K LCD sets may serve the high-end of the TV market as transitional technologies until AMOLED TVs arrive in the mass market.

“The 4K sets can fill the gap at the high-end of television brands’ product lines until the arrival of the next-generation AMOLED TVs,” Morrod said.

“Japanese brands are offering 4K product because they need to have a competitive alternative to the AMOLED TVs being sold by their rivals in South Korea, Samsung and LG Electronics. Meanwhile, the South Korean companies are having difficulties producing AMOLED panels, saying they will need two more years to achieve competitive volume and pricing. Therefore, the Korean brands are offering 4K sets as a transitional step until their AMOLED televisions are more widely available.”