Austin, Texas — Plasma panel shipments declined 22 percent in the first quarter of 2009 from the same period a year ago, and 28 percent from the previous quarter, according to a new report from display market analysts DisplaySearch, a company of The NPD Group.
According to the latest Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report, Plasma and LCD TV Panel Shipment Module from DisplaySearch, weakened global demand, triggered by poor economic conditions, caused plasma panel shipments from panel makers to brands to see year-to-year declines for the second straight quarter after posting strong growth during most of 2008.
Shipments for the quarter were 2.8 million units, down from 3.5 million units in Q1 2008, DisplaySearch said.
DisplaySearch traced most of the decline to the discontinuation of 32-inch panels in 2009, although 42-inch and 50-inch panel shipments fell in Q1 2009.
“Some brands announced their withdrawal from the plasma TV business in Q1 ’09, like Pioneer, while other brands decided to shift away from plasma to focus on LCD TV only, like Vizio,” DisplaySearch said. “The result was weaker than anticipated shipments as the number of brands consolidates.”
Other noteworthy factors in the quarter included the following:
- Fifty-inch-plus share of shipments reached a new high of 33 percent in Q1 2009, from 30 percent in Q4 2008, as plasma TV brands focused on large-panel screen sizes, which remain more competitively priced than LCD.
- Share of 1080p shipments dipped slightly from 25 percent in Q4 2008 to 22 percent in Q1 2009 as manufacturers focused on offering the lowest-priced products to consumers, such as 42-inch and 50-inch 720p models, at a time when consumer price sensitivity continues to climb.
- Most of the share lost by the discontinuation of 32-inch shipments was picked up at 50 inch with a smaller share increase at 42 inch.
- Shipment share of 46-inch class panels continues to struggle to rise over 3 percent of unit volume for two reasons. Forty-two-inch and 50-inch HD products are priced at very compelling levels, and competitive 46-inch and 47-inch 1080p LCDs are priced similarly to 46-inch 1080p plasma, limiting growth.
“As bad as plasma unit shipments were in Q1 ’09 relative to a year ago, plasma panel revenues were even worse, declining 36 percent year over year as falling prices were needed to stem even steeper demand falloff,” noted Paul Gagnon, DisplaySearch North America TV market research director. “With future investment in capacity expansion on hold at almost every plasma panel maker except Panasonic, improvements in technology, such as greater luminance efficiency and more efficient manufacturing at existing fabs, will be the key areas of investment to maintain cost competitiveness against future LCD fab capacity expansion.”
Top plasma panel suppliers on a unit basis included: Panasonic with 37 percent share in Q1 2009, and Samsung SDI with 31 percent, followed by LGE with 26 percent. Since Hitachi and Pioneer will withdraw plasma module production in 2009, only three major panel makers are left in the plasma industry. As shown in the following table, the ranking in terms of revenues was the same with Panasonic’s lead a little stronger due to a greater mix of 1080p.
DisplaySearch observed that both Samsung and LGE are quickly increasing their 1080p production. Only Panasonic was able to achieve a slower level of revenue decline than the category average with LGE and Hitachi both falling more than 50 percent compared to a year ago.
Table 1: Plasma Panel Revenue Share and Growth by Supplier