According to industry watcher NDP DisplaySearch/In-Stat, 250 million TVs of one type or another were sold last year, and that number didn't change all that much from 2010. What is changing is the dominance of LCD display technology. According to reports released this week, LCD technologies already account for 80% of the market. While the total number of TV shipments isn't expected to grow all that much (total shipment in 2015 is expected to rise to 280 million units), the size and resolution will continue to climb.
LCD sales will increase more rapidly than other technologies, with CRT-based displays taking the biggest hit. In-Stat says CRTs will all but disappear from the TV market by 2013. We expect that manufacturers will be showing off large panel AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic LED) TVs this week at CES, but don't expect that translate into robust sales anytime soon. The technology remains better suited to smartphones. The technology's very light weight and better yields at small display sizes make it right for higher end smartphones.
The good news for consumers is that prices of LCD panels backlit by white LEDs has fallen sharply over the last two years while resolutions have increased. In 2009, the average price of an LED-lit LCD TV was just over $2,000, now it's under $900. Introduced widely in 2010, 3-D LCD TVs are set to follow the same price curve--2010's average price in the U.S. was $2,153, 2011 saw that price drop to $1.666. 3-D plasma sets are dropping in price even faster, but still not seeing the uptake of LED-lit LCD panels. As a fraction of sets sold, Americans like 3-D TVs--they accounted for 22% of sets sold here in 2011--but Western Europeans and Japanese love them. In those markets, the set accounted for 42% and 58% respectively. The next big thing? Smart TVs that integrate well with your handheld devices.
In PCs, the growth is in all-in-one units. That market grew 39% last year and is expected to grow about 17% each of the next three years. Apple has a third of this market and leads the pack, but Lenovo is nipping at its heels and may overtake it in 2012, particularly with strong sales in China.
The market for notebooks, tablets, and netbooks (NDP calls them mini-notes) continues to grow--particularly for tablets, which accounted for slightly more than a quarter of the sales in this segment last year with 72.7 million units shipped. While tablets show better growth than notebooks, NDP still expects notebook sales to exceed tablet sales out to 2017, when it expects 432 million notebooks to be sold versus 383 million tablets.
The preference for smartphones took a tick up toward the end of 2011, accounting for two out of three mobile phones sold. Apple saw a nice close to 2011, with a boost from the introduction of the iPhone 4S. For October and November, Android sales were down while Apple was up. Android accounted for 47% of the units sold while Apple sold 43%. The remaining 10% goes to RIM with just 6%, Microsoft with about 2%, and "other" making up the rest. On a model by model basis, Apple's phones where the most popular at the end of 2011 with the 4S, 4, and 3GS taking the top spots, followed by two Samsung Galaxy models.
Part of the fuel for the smartphone boom has been the increased use of AMOLED displays that offer high resolution, saturated colors, and almost infinite contrast ratios. Their performance along with their light weight makes them perfect for phones. 2011 saw shipments of phone-sized panels almost double and revenue more than double with almost 100 million of the panels sold in 2011. And there will probably be similar increases in 2012, with manufacturers rushing to bring more fabrication facilities online, and tablet makers showing interest in using the technology.
Art Wittmann is director of InformationWeek Reports, a portfolio of decision-support tools and research reports. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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