TV Sales Show Mixed Picture

February brought bad news for plasma TV makers. Plasmas clocked their first year-over-year drop in sales with a 16 percent drop in dollar volume, according to the NPD Group. Pricing was down more than 35 percent with the average plasma selling for $1672. This is, of course, good news for consumers and we showed our appreciation by driving up unit sales 30 percent. Forty-two inch models are most popular though 50-inchers are gaining.

For LCD TV makers the outlook is more bullish, based on numbers from Quixel Research. LCD sales grew in both dollar volume, 125 percent, and unit volume, 134 percent, in 2006. (Note, however, that this timeframe is for fourth-quarter 2006 over the previous year, as opposed to first-quarter 2007 in the numbers above.) Again the growth was driven by dropping prices, with large-screen sizes selling for 17 to 20 percent less and small sizes for 15 to 17 percent less. LCD prices seem to be eroding (sorry, improving!) more slowly than plasma prices but the downward trend seems inexorable.

DLP-based microdisplays also did well in 2006, increasing 63 percent in unit sales over the previous year, says a press release from format licensor Texas Instruments. In the 50-inch size, DLPs shifted twice as many units as plasma, capturing a market share of 28.9 percent. DLP also has a majority market share in microdisplays (versus LCD-based rear-projectors). TI attributes the ruddy-cheeked robustness of DLP sales to reduced-depth models from Samsung and 1080p at a competitive price point. The proud parent's press release does not discuss the profitability of DLP.

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