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PC Monitor Sales To Grow With Large Screens

Research firm DisplaySearch reported that 43.3 million LCD monitors and 1.4 million CRT monitors sold in North America in 2007. In 2008, the group is forecasting sales of 45.7 million and 1 million, respectively. The firm’s numbers encompass both enterprise and consumer sales, but John Jacobs, an analyst at the firm, said that roughly 40 percent of its numbers reflect the consumer market.

Research firm The NPD Group reported that the PC monitor market in the United States alone saw $3.17 billion in consumer sales in the 12 months ending October 2007. It also said 13,095,330 units were sold to consumers in the United States during that time period.

It should be noted that NPD tracks its numbers somewhat differently than its Display Search subsidiary, mostly due to the different factors each takes into account while compiling their respective data.

Commenting on the recent state of the PC monitor market, Steve Baker, industry analyst for The NPD Group, told TWICE “[monitor] prices have really fallen over the last year.” In general, he said there is more “stability” in the market. Baker explained that the market has recently “seen steep declines” year-over-year, but said he feels “we’re past that place and will be out of it in ’08.”

DisplaySearch’s Jacobs said for the monitor market for 2008 and beyond “the outlook is still somewhat strong.” He said that he expects “MFM” or “multifunction monitors” with HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort interfaces, enabling the monitors with more video capabilities, to become more commonplace and to help grow the monitor market.

As the media center PC concept continues to emerge, consumers appear to more often be using their PCs as vehicles for entertainment.

“Interface is not to be ignored,” Jacobs said. And, “consumers are starting to emerge who understand all the uses [of monitors with these added capabilities],” he added, pointing to “growing sales of TV tuners that you can plug into your USB port.”

Jacobs conceded that “generally most consumers are not yet aware of those things, but I think we’ll see more in ’08.”

In tune with consumers’ growing awareness of the expanding usage possibilities for their monitors, appears to be their adoption of units with larger screen sizes.

Baker said that with the 22- to 24-inch monitors, for example, “you can make an argument for it depending on how people are using it.”

Baker said players in the current monitor market are facing two key questions regarding these larger monitors, which he said are “substantially bigger than people are typically used to.” Baker questioned “How big do consumers want a monitor in the home?” and “Do people really want that kind of quality and level of product on their desk?”

Display Search’s Jacobs said he thinks we’re in the “second go-round of an upgrade cycle,” because he has “seen a lot of folks who might have bought the standard 15- 17 inch LCDs to replace CRTs now replacing [their smaller LCDs] with bigger and wider LCDs” at 20 inches or above.

Jacobs said this kind of movement is “best reflected in terms of a standalone monitor company like Samsung… In Q3, Samsung took the top spot, passing Dell for the first time in monitors.” He added “Customers are going out and just buying displays instead of waiting to upgrade their whole systems.”

Factors that have contributed to this change, according to Jacobs, have been the Vista launch “to a degree” and its “whole marketing message of that, [which] plays well for bigger, wider monitors.”

While certain trends are helping to spur consumer interest in the market, there are also some challenges. Baker told TWICE that there are an “awful lot of trends in the market [that move] away from standalone monitors,” in particular the new crop of all-in-one desktop replacements continuing to hit the market like the Mac, Gateway One and Dell XPS One. “If those really take off, it takes a big chunk out of the potential monitor market,” said Baker.

Display Search’s John Jacobs told TWICE that 1.13 million all-in-one units were sold in North America in 2007, adding that his firm only expects that number to grow to 1.16 million in 2008.

“Apple pretty much owns that market,” said Jacobs. “Despite their recent successes and nice commercials, it’s still a challenge getting people to switch.”

Finally, NPD’s Baker also pointed to challenges presented as more consumers buy notebooks. He said that while consumers may still have one desktop in the home, he sees a trend where many are moving to a “hub and spoke” model — a sea change that he said has the potential to reduce the volume available to the monitor market, but he added that it is “unclear at this point exactly how all of that will play out.”

Jacobs said that consumer adoption of notebooks in the United States is “at present having a small impact.” He said that in the third quarter of 2007, there was “about a 50-50 split between consumer and enterprise customers buying notebooks.”