Beaverton, Ore. — Although not enjoying the same explosive growth rates as flat-panel TV, microdisplay (MD) rear-projection HD sets will remain viable for at least the next three years, according to a new sales tracking report from Quixel Research.
“The MD category hit a homerun in 2006 with sales closing in on 2.3 million units,” said Tamaryn Pratt, Quixel principal. “In 2007, as some manufacturers de-emphasize the microdisplay category, we’ll see about 1.9 million units sold, a great market for those remaining players.”
Pratt said that by 2010, the category will drop below 1 million in sales as it is relegated to the largest screen sizes.
“We are expecting interesting and continued innovations with light sources, such as laser, and the green story, including LED,” Pratt said. “As in the promotion of 1080p, the MD category continues to lead the herd. In hindsight, it was the first HDTV category to be thinner (and bigger), first to be 1080 and the first to have a green story.”
From a global perspective, Quixel observes that the microdisplay category “remains a North American and really USA phenomenon, fueled by consumers’ desire to have big-screen TVs at an affordable price. Contrary to what some component suppliers would like us believe, there almost zero indication that this category will migrate anywhere else in the world successfully.”
Where microdisplay continues to hold the cards is in 1080p products with very large screen sizes.
“For the customers that want a big-screen 1080p set, a microdisplay TV is one of the few options. At a reasonable price point, it is the only option and a very good one,” Pratt said.
The MD category continues to lead the 1080p adoption curve, according to Quixel.
“In Q1 2007 almost half (48 percent) of the units sold were 1080p or far more than both LCD TV and PDP,” said Pratt. “By the end of 2007, the 1080p segment could easily capture 60 percent of the units sold or double that of 2006 sales.”
“In reality, the MD category is bifurcated; addressing the value customer for big screen at both 1080p and 720p,” Pratt continued. “These are the largest segments of the market and offer the most bang for the buck when compared to the flats at the similar screen sizes.”
In Q1, the 50-inch to 55-inch 720p MD segment (the largest of the MD category) had an average selling price (ASP) of around $1,350, which is still significantly lower than the ASP for a 50-inch 720p plasma.
“This is the traditional CRT rear projection customer — bigger is better,” Pratt said. “On the high end of the category, the products are addressing the consumer who has more disposable income and is interested in the best long term value — or future proofing with a 1080p set.
“Even at an ASP of $2,750, the 60-inch and larger 1080p segment is a great deal when compared to the price of a flat TV with similar specs,” she said. “Taking all stats aside, it is all about trade off — do you want thinner or bigger and cheaper? Our primary research has consistently shown that most consumers want a flat TV — not a skinny RPTV but a flat TV — and the marketplace has borne that out.”
Pratt said many consumers today will opt for a smaller set in order to have a flat-panel, “but there are people who want a big screen at an affordable price and the top MD manufacturers continue to provide a great alternative. In Q1 2007, 60 percent of category in units was priced under $2,000.”
“DLP MD model sales topped all other MD technology sales for the last 12 months in a row but there is only one major player [when also considering] both LCD-HTPS and LCoS technologies,” she said. “If we aggregated LCD-HTSP and LCoS as ‘LCD based’, this was the first quarter that DLP sales topped LCD-based technology sales.”