For the second month in a row, global shipments of flat-panel televisions fell in July compared to year-ago levels, dampening hopes that the market will achieve any growth this year.
The combined shipments worldwide in July of liquid-crystal display (LCD) and plasma display panel (PDP) TVs amounted to 14.88 million units, down 6.3 percent from July 2012, according to the “Monthly Worldwide FPD TV Shipment Data Report” from the TV Systems Intelligence Service at IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS).
LCD TVs, which account for the bulk of the global flat-panel TV space, posted a 5.7 percent year-on-year decline based on shipments of 14.1 million units, as presented in the attached figure. PDP TVs, making up the remainder of the flat-panel TV market with shipments of 781,000, contracted by an even steeper margin—down 15.8 percent from the same time last year.
The retreat in July was a repeat of what had happened in June, and the downward trend is unlikely to turn around soon given the ongoing reduction in demand. Companies remain conservative in their outlook for the next few months until the end of the year when shipments are expected to bounce back, in line with the traditional sales bump anticipated during the holiday season.
Overall, however, monthly shipments will continue to be smaller than their comparable months in 2012 until October, a development with ominous undertones.
“Last year was the first time that global flat-panel TV shipments failed to grow, following a decade of blockbuster expansion and runaway success,” said Jusy Hong, senior analyst for consumer electronics & technology at IHS. “This year as recently as May, it appeared that the flat-panel TV market might pull off a rebound even if growth would have been marginal at less than 1 percent. However, with any increase unlikely to take place even in the fourth quarter, it appears more likely that TV shipments will post another year of decline in 2013. If so, this would make it the second year in a row that flat-panel TV shipments retrench—an unthinkable prospect just a few years back, during the flat-panel boom.”
CCFLs going extinct
TV panels featuring light-emitting-diode (LED) backlighting technology now make up 95 percent of shipments. As a result, the Chinese manufacturers that are prominent players in the business have altogether stopped producing cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) panels typical of earlier-generation LCD TV displays. The South Koreans and Japanese are likely to follow suit before the year closes, so that only low-level manufacturers will be left in the CCFL trade.
In turn, the ascendance of LED as the technology of choice has rendered the playing field even, with little differentiation now apparent among panel types. Given the diminution in variety, the TV market has turned into a game of chicken especially on pricing—an unfavorable circumstance for TV makers.
Chinese TV brands as a group enjoyed the best performance in July, posting a slight growth in shipments for the month and gaining market share as a result. The combined share of six major Chinese TV brands—Changhong, Haier, Hisense, Konka, Skyworth and TCL—rose 5 percentage points to 20.4 percent, up from 15.5 percent in June. Meanwhile, the share of both South Korean and Japanese makers, rivals to the Chinese, slipped by 2 percentage points.
Even so, the South Korean giants maintained their positions at the top. Samsung Electronics remained the No. 1 TV maker with a 19 percent share of shipments, followed by LG Electronics with 14 percent.
Tied at third place were Sony of Japan and TCL, the pre-eminent Chinese brand, each with 6 percent share. Japan’s Toshiba and Hisense of China were also tied at fourth spot, each with 5 percent.
Rounding out the Top 5 was another group of companies that had tied—this time a trio, made up of Sharp and Panasonic from Japan, as well as China’s Skyworth.
The Top 3 Chinese brands as a whole are expected to maintain their strong presence moving forward, and will likely outdo their Japanese rivals by the end of the year, IHS predicts.
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