Wednesday, July 13, 2011

US flat-panel TV prices rise in June because of active 3-D set sales

EL SEGUNDO, USA: For the third month in a row, US pricing for flat-panel televisions increased in June, fueled by the increasing availability of high-priced active 3-D liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs, according to the new IHS iSuppli report entitled “Pricing Gap Continues between Active vs. Passive 3-D LCD TVs,” from IHS.

Average pricing in June for flat-panel TVs reached $1,133, up $10 or 0.9 percent from $1,123 in May. Overall average prices for LCD TVs increased $5 to $1,050, while those for plasma stabilized last month at $1,590. The price uptick in June—albeit slight—marked the third consecutive month of increase since April after four straight months of decline.

“The biggest pricing increases for flat-panel televisions last month were among the new 3-D models employing active shutter glasses, the most popular type of three-dimensional set on the market today,” said Riddhi Patel, director for television systems and retail services at IHS. “There is an increasing number of models with 3-D capability in the product mix that have higher than average prices. These sets drove price increases for the entire flat-panel television market in the United States in June.”

Active vs. passive
Active 3-D televisions employing relatively expensive active shutter glasses that beam full 1080p, high-resolution images to each eye—the so-called active 3-D LCD TVs. Competing against the active televisions are the passive 3-D sets, which use lightweight and much less expensive eyewear to create a 3-D effect but with resolution dropping to 540 lines per eye.

The price gap between active and passive 3-D LCD televisions became more apparent in June as the premium for active sets compared to passive grew to 9 percent for the 40- to 49-inch range, and to 14 percent for 50-inch sizes; the price difference in May for the two size groups against their passive 3-D counterparts sat at just 7 percent.

The widening price gap between active and passive 3-D LCD sets was also due to a drop in pricing for passive 3-D sets, falling 3 percent in the 40- to 49-inch range and sliding 8 percent in the 50-inch-and-larger group.

And although passive sets have been in the US market for only six months, the 3-D market is expected in the future to favor passive models in place of the now-dominant active shutter technology, given the steadily declining price of passive models and the greater affordability of the accompanying 3-D glasses required for viewing.

Other trends reveal consumer preferences
Among LCD televisions featuring the advanced light-emitting diode (LED) backlight technology, pricing in June fell for every size category by 1 to 5 percent, with the biggest declines occurring in the 20-inch-and-smaller group as well as in the 30- to 39-inch range. For the popular 32-inch LED model, pricing fell 7 percent from May and retreated a sizable 23 percent compared to June 2010. Meanwhile, US LED shipments this year for the 30- to 34-inch range are expected to jump 96 percent.

Internet-enabled LCD TVs evinced mixed trends this month as the technology began penetrating smaller-sized TVs while at the same time continuing to compete with the medium- and larger-sized TV market. Pricing rose 2 percent in the 21- to 29-inch group for Internet-enabled TVs—considered a premium feature in this size range—but fell 4 percent in the 30- to 39-inch segment.

For plasma sets, clear-outs of older models as well as new-model introductions served to keep June prices in equilibrium. The 50-inch-and-larger group saw a price decline of 1 percent, but pricing rose 3 percent in the 40- to 49-inch category.

Overall for June, trends showed many premium features experiencing a price decline. Given that the US TV market is mature, brands will need to keep offering attractive features like full high definition, LED, Internet-enabled capabilities and 3-D in order to continue moving forward—all the while keeping prices in mind, IHS believes. This is especially true as the country continues to grapple with the effects of a weak housing market, high unemployment and elevated gas prices.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

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