LCD TVs Buck Consumer Electronics Revenue Drop

Retail revenue for consumer electronics fell 6% in April, compared with the same period a year ago, while sales of LCD TVs rose 80% to more than $400 million.

Sales of consumer electronics were down in April, but revenue from LCD TVs bucked the trend with continued strong growth, a market research firm said Friday.

Retail revenue for consumer electronics fell 6% in April, compared with the same period a year ago, while sales of liquid crystal display TVs rose 80% to more than $400 million, The NPD Group said. Overall TV revenue fell 3% from a year ago, with every category showing a decline, except LCD TVs.

Even though plasma TV unit sales rose 18% in April, revenue fell by more than 20% because of a 33% decline in the average selling price, according to the research firm. LCD TVs, on the other hand, showed a $40 month-to-month increase in ASP over March on the best-selling 32-inch screens. The LCD ASP overall, however, was down year to year in April to $976 from $1,018.

"LCD TVs are becoming price-competitive with tube TVs at smaller sizes while providing more options for the flat-panel buyer looking at screens well above 40 inches," NPD analyst Ross Rubin said in a statement. "The high resolution of these sets is enabling them to serve as an attractive destination for digital content in the home. Broad industry support for LCD TV technology will continue to drive picture quality improvements, larger sizes, and lower prices."

While LCD TVs showed strong growth, shipments of LCD panels overall fell 4.5% during the seasonally slow first quarter to 77.5 million units, according to iSuppli. L.G. Philips LCD led the market of large-sized panels, which are screens of 10 inches or more diagonally. L.G., which surpassed AU Optronics to take the No. 1 spot, shipped 16.6 million panels, up 1% from the fourth quarter for a 21.4% market share based on shipments.

While sales of LCD TVs remain strong, manufacturers are working on other technologies that could one day replace the popular displays. Sony in April said it planned to ship this year in Japan an 11-inch TV with an organic LED display.

OLED, or organic light emitting diode, is a superior technology to rival high-definition TV displays because it uses materials similar to that used by fireflies to emit light, rather than depend on a backlight. As a result, the picture is brighter, of higher contrast, and has better color than what's seen on today's LCD and plasma screens. Analysts, however, say the technology is still a ways from mass production and a price that's low enough to compete.

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