How flat is the flat-screen TV market? What
will drive business this year — 3DTV? IPTV? LED?
Jeff Kussard, Capitol:
The TV market is just plain flat. It hasn’t slowed, but it certainly isn’t growing at any discernible rate, mostly due to the fact that after the past few years of rapid growth, the majority of consumers have all the screens they need for the immediate future. 3D has yet to be proven as a motivator to upgrade, and while it is an attractive feature, I doubt that there will be any great rush to upgrade for that feature alone. IP, on the other hand, offers a real benefit to savvy end-users who are anxious to find alternatives to traditional content delivery. However, it has been around for a couple of years. The industry, however, has not done much to shine a spotlight on its benefits until recently. Instead of focusing exclusively on the displays, we encourage our customers to look for ways to incorporate essential (and high margin) add-on sales into every TV sale. That’s where the real growth opportunities are turning up.
Warren Chaiken, Almo:
Overall, flat-screen business will be flat this year. LED TV and IPTV will be the market sales leaders. But don’t rule out plasma, whose sales exceeded 2010 expectations. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues. 3DTV will continue to limp along due to lack of available programming and ongoing technology limitations. This market is still in its infancy and will take a few more years to hit popular acceptance.
Fred Towns, New Age Electronics:
TV manufacturers are changing the focus of their messaging from pushing 3D to how great their TV sets are, which, by the way, have 3D features.
The industry needs to make this the year of educating consumers to help alleviate confusion about what they really are getting — from the benefits of better picture quality in LED, which technology is right for their individual needs, the lack of universality between manufacturers and glasses, and even between the same manufacturer and different generation models. The more we can educate them, do the homework for them and have what they need in stores, the more successful retailers will be.
Jeff Davis, D&H Distributing:
Flat-screen sales seem to be getting better. Sales are on an upward growth pattern. Some of the mystery has come out of the category. I think the major questions have been cleared up for the end-consumer at this point.
We see LED and connected TV becoming more important. As more content becomes available, 3D will be a factor, but will not necessarily be the key area that drives sales.
Tom Roper, SED International:
Internet TV is the play. Flat-screen plasma TVs are strong, [but] flat-screen pricing will continue to drop, so volume will be tough to maintain. IPTV and LED is where the manufacturers are driving the business. Thirty-two-inch LCD pricing will be highly competitive, [with] unit sales way up but volume increase will be slight vs. last year.
David Kaplan, DDG:
3DTV certainly was not the sales driver in 2010 that many expected it to be. I don’t expect that to change in 2011, though one bright spot has been Mitsubishi’s large DLP Home Theater television. What grew in 2010 were LED panels with Internet connectivity, and we expect that to continue in 2011.
In general, flat panel is not the business driver that it used to be. Opening-price-point erosion coupled with a tight economy has made comping previousyear sales dollars impossible. We do not expect dollar or overall unit growth in 2011. But margin lives in attachment and new feature sets represent a significant enhancement of the attachment opportunity.
My guess is that most consumers with IP- and Wi- Fi-oriented feature sets are not using those features nearly to their potential. This creates new opportunity for savvy integrators and the distributors who support them. Some of this may be small user or relatively inexpensive jobs, but anything that gets an integrator inside (or back inside) a customer’s home is an opportunity not just for the moment, but for future jobs and add-ons over time.
Dennis Holzer, Powerhouse Alliance:
The flatscreen market is not flat. Our unit sales continue to increase, but continually decreasing prices for video products have driven our customers to be better price-educated before making their purchases. The business will continue to be driven by the best price within all technologies, including LCD, LED, 3D and IPTV. LCD/LED will still lead in sales as a result of the continuing low street prices, but look for IPTVs to make a much larger impact later in the year. 3D will continue to lag behind until technology advances and all glasses are passive or no longer necessary.
Michael Flink, ADI North America:
The flatscreen TV market has been shrinking. As unit purchases continue to remain flat, price erosion is causing dollar sales to become lower. 3DTV, IP TV, LED and small screens have definitely sparked some interest, and we are seeing them in more of the high-end installations. These technologies will soon trickle down into smaller installations and become more widespread, and eventually become the industry standard. For example, CCFL LCD is being replaced by LED in smaller screens and will become the common technology for all screen sizes over the next year or so.