Market researcher DisplaySearch said that it expects sales of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) televisions with screens measuring between 40 and 42 inches to edge out sales of 37-inch sets by the end of this year, citing a shrinking price gap between the sizes.
The Austin, Texas-based research house attributed the shift in the world's slim-screen TV market to an aggressive push for big-screen sets by major TV brands such as Sony Corp, and more supply of large panels after panel-makers ramped up capacity at advanced plants.
"On the strong supply of the 40-inch and 42-inch [panels], DisplaySearch forecasts the 40- and 42-inch segment will surpass the 37-inch segment in the fourth quarter of 2006," said David Hsieh (謝勤益), head of DisplaySearch's local branch, during a flat-panel-display forum last week in Taipei.
The world's two biggest flat panel suppliers, LG Philips LCD Co (LPL) and Samsung Electronics Co, which focus on 40-inch and 42-inch panel manufacturing, will together ship roughly 4.9 million units of such panels this year, Hsieh said.
The shipments of 40- and 42-inch panels account for 10 percent of the overall 48 million units of TV panel shipments for this year forecast by DisplaySearch, Hsieh said.
In terms of TV sets, Hsieh projected that 40-inch and 42-inch LCD TVs would make up 9 percent of total LCD TV sales at 41.7 million units this year, outpacing the 8 percent of 37-inch sets.
In addition to the growing supply of large-sized panels, aggressive pricing strategies adopted by major TV vendors will also help boost sales of 40-inch and 42-inch LCD TVs, Hsieh said.
"Main TV brands such as Sony and Samsung are pushing hard for larger-sized TV sets," he said.
He said sales of 40-inch LCD TVs boomed after Sony unveiled the BRAVIA series of TVs, which are more affordable, and overtook 37-inch TV sets during the five months after the series' launch last October.
Sony, Sharp Corp and Samsung were the world's top three LCD TV vendors in the first three months of this year, according to DisplaySearch.
The shrinking price gap between the two major segments of LCD TVs has also spurred demand for bigger-screen TVs, according to DisplaySearch president Ross Young, who expected the gap to narrow significantly.
By the end of the year, the price of 40-inch LCD TVs will drop to US$2,020, just 27 percent higher than a 37-inch LCD TV priced at US$1,586, Young predicted.
The price difference between 40-inch and 37-inch LCD TVs was more than 30 percent last year, according to Young.
By the final quarter of 2010, the gap between the two segments will contract to just 11 percent, when the price of a 40-inch LCD TVs will fall to US$977 and a 37-inch LCD TV will cost US$880, Young forecast.