Last year we saw an average sale of 10% off of flat panel displays leading up to the US sports 'holiday,' Super Bowl Sunday, this weekend.While the industry news is certainly full of many dismal display reports, retailers are trying to move the inventory, as well captured by this product & price review by PCWorld. What the review shows is that the less feature-rich (lacking in internet connectivity, lower refresh rates, fewer ports, etc.) are really seeing tremendous price drops, particularly in the large displays (greater than 40") which are the traditional cornerstone of this sport holiday sale. 3D sets are also prominent in the sales, which speaks to the question of the future of 3D TV in light of consumer spending declines for TVs, particularly in saturated markets such as North America.
Saturation is certainly at the core of the TV display market, with even the hotel industry in North America having reached full penetration for refresh sales, as reported here by iSuppli. While the 2011 shipment rates to hotels was a healthy 28% year-over-year increase, this year it is expecting to moderate to 7%, followed by an average of 4-5.5% increases through 2015, according to the same iSuppli report. While this may seem to herald (more) bad news for the larger TV display sector, as more consumers have been switching to LEDs from LCD and plasmas in their homes, the higher end hotel chains are hearing from their customers about LED preferences. As a result the hotel market for LED displays is likely to see an upswing over the next few years, particularly when adding the energy efficiency cost savings for hotels.
For the consumer market, the combination of numerous competitors, high inventory, (near-) saturated penetration, and failing consumer spending has resulted in negative earnings and a notable amount of consolidations, market departures, and inventory draw downs. However, there is an increase in volume (and demand) in both North America and China for the larger (greater than 40") size presently for LCD TVs, see this recent DisplaySearch report. As the article points out, improved features, resolutions, interactive capabilities, and other value adds in the larger LCD TVs sector is supporting increases in demand and forecasts for positive sales.
As summed up by David Hsieh in the article, Vice President of NPD DisplaySearch, "Particularly in North America and China, the two largest global LCD TV markets, consumers are responding to promotions to buy larger sizes. Panel makers are working to push this trend further by producing larger panels more efficiently. The increase in LCD TV area demand means more capacity consumption. This will be an important aspect in balancing TFT LCD supply/demand."
With LED and AMOLED also seeing more of a breakthrough in the consumer TV market, perhaps we may see a 'hail Mary' pass to help boost the display sector.