Sharp: LCD Prices to Drop 25%

Just when you thought HDTV prices couldn't go any lower, Sharp is forecasting a 25 percent drop for larger LCD-based flat panels.

Bloomberg (the news service, not the New York mayor) quotes a Japanese executive saying that 40-inch models will fall from the current $2600-2700 to less than $2000 before year-end. He also said prices for 30-inchers are "hitting bottom." Given that Sharp is Japan's largest LCD maker, as well as a longtime specialist in the genre, these are no idle threats.

The news follows nearly a year of plummeting TV prices, partly due to the expansion of mega-retailers into the flat-screen TV marketplace. Falling prices have electronics retailers on the ropes. Price fixing, newly sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court, may come into play--but when?

Probably when manufacturers get tired of falling profit margins. At the moment, some of them are still doing just fine in the exploding flat-panel market. Sharp, Samsung, and LG.Philips have all announced rising first-quarter earnings. Sharp's average LCD TV pricing is up four percent, despite an industry-wide drop of 30 percent, because the company is focusing on more profitable large models.

The company is also building a new 10th-generation LCD factory.