The demand for LCDs in digital signage is becoming increasingly diverse, with many noteworthy trends in LCD technology allowing these displays to be employed in a wide range of vertical markets. These trends during 2014 sets the stage for the coming year, and IHS expects total worldwide LCD digital signage displays to enjoy moderate increases of 7.3% and 7.8% in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Looking back on 2014, IHS believes the development of a few key trends for LCDs will continue to progress throughout the coming year.
- Adoption of digital signage bundles will become more common in SMBs
Much of this anticipated growth is being driven by the expansion of entry-level digital signage offerings, with many integrators witnessing increased price competition, driving demand for cost conscious models. Turnkey, entry-level digital signage packages have been gaining popularity this past year, with display manufacturers targeting small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) which are more price sensitive than large enterprises. These digital-signage-in-a-box bundles combine the functionality of a traditional TV and built-in content creation and management software that allows SMB owners to create their own digital solutions. These complete solutions typically include the display and any wall mount or stand. These bundles are also a viable option for many video wall rollouts, which helps reduce the overall initial costs. Samsung and Sharp recently launched their RM-D Series and PN-Y Series, respectively, of commercial-grade displays equipped with embedded software, along with the necessary accessories, at very competitive pricing. These products are targeted at the lower spectrum of the digital signage market as an intermediate option to consumer-grade and higher-end displays. IHS awaits the launch of many low-cost LCD display options in the near future, with end users taking advantage of these entry-level packages where high-end large format displays were previously too costly for their requirements.
- Super and ultra-narrow bezel displays
Super narrow bezel (SNB) LCD displays have also seen extraordinary growth since entering the market, experiencing great success within video wall applications. Over the past year, significant strides in reducing bezel width have been made, with near seamless video walls from leading display manufacturers such as Samsung, LGE, NEC, and Planar, among others. Many of these manufacturers now offer 46-inch and 55-inch ultra-narrow bezel products, with bezel-to-bezel widths of a mere 3.5mm, to create virtually continuous images when multiple displays are tiled together. IHS has already seen triple digit growth in commercial LCD displays with bezel-to-bezel widths less than 5mm, with shipments increasing roughly 170% from January through September of last year. IHS expects the introduction of even slimmer ultra-narrow bezel products in 2015, contributing to further expansion of the video wall market. As bezel widths of LCD displays continue to decrease, in addition to pricing declines for larger screens, further expansion of super and ultra-narrow bezel displays in 60-inch and larger size categories will become the new standard for video wall installations.
- Outdoor digital signage broadens its presence
Demand for outdoor displays are also becoming increasingly sought after, especially in markets such as street billboards, storefront windows, stadiums, transit, QSRs, shopping malls, and airports, among others. The greater influx of outdoor digital displays also allows many of these market segments to deliver a unified brand identity and content messaging in both outdoor and indoor environments. IHS expects the outdoor digital signage market to continue robust growth during 2015, with many opportunities opening up aside from advertising, including more dynamic visuals, greater interactivity, and displaying art or other important community messages to a widespread audience. Outdoor digital screens will prompt interactivity through targeted messages and advertising, encouraging users to interact with displays through touch-enabled displays or their mobile phones via Bluetooth, NFC tags, or text message.
Several unique challenges of outdoor displays remain, including extreme weather and humidity, direct sunlight, and vandalism, among other outdoor elements. Complex heating and cooling systems, along with unique backlighting systems, often creates a hefty price premium between static displays and indoor LCD digital signage. Outdoor LCDs may also face increased competition in coming years from higher density LED video displays, as they offer higher brightness and scalability, greater durability and ruggedness, lower operational cost, and are easier to maintain, albeit with a more expensive upfront cost. As the notion of ‘digital’ cities becomes more prevalent in many urban areas, outdoor digital signage is quickly becoming an inherent part of the digital out-of-home market.