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New Plasma Offerings Make LCD Look Old Hat

Paul Read, General Manager of Consumer Electronics at Panasonic who are the market leader in the plasma market with almost double the sales of Samsung, claims that the release yesterday of several new plasma panels from Samsung and earlier this month from Panasonic really sets plasma apart from LCD TC technology.

Among the new plasma offerings from both Panasonic and Samsung is 600Hz technology versus the 250Hz being promoted by Sony as a world first on their Bravia LCD TV range.

Both vendors have also delivered wafer thin plasma TV screens that have up to 50% power saving over current model plasma TV’s. Both vendors claim that they also have superior contrast engines that deliver richer blacks and a “far superior picture”.

“Plasma still has a long way to go in the evolution cycle. We are now delivering thinner, more eco friendly TV’s. We have 600Hz ahead of the LCD Vendors and we are delivering a significantly better quality picture than what a consumer will find with an equally sized LCD TV” said Read. He also said that there is more development to comme over the next few years.

“Australians definitely have a better understanding of plasma as being a superior TV technology than other markets where there are declines in PDP share. I believe that our education commercials have had an effect in the market and we will continue educating consumers of the superiority of the plasma picture” he added.

One big differentiator, claims Read, is the recently introduced Panasonic Neo PDP technology, which was developed by a Panasonic R&D team.  it was developed by a team that included more than 120 Pioneer display engineers who were credited with delivering the Pioneer Kuro technology that powered the Pioneer plasma TV offering. The Kuro was considered the best TV display screen in the world by consumer electronic reviewers the world over.
Australia is defying the global trend according to GFK data which shows that plasma sales actually grew in the last quarter despite a shortage of plasma stock by most suppliers.

According to research firm DisplaySearch, quarterly global TV shipment fell 28 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 and 22 per cent year on year to just under 2.8 million units, down from 3.5 million units in the first quarter of 2008.

Most of the decline was due to 32″ models being discontinued in 2009, but even 42″ and 50″ panel shipments fell in Q1’09.

“As bad as plasma unit shipments were in Q1’09 relative to a year ago, plasma panel revenues were even worse, declining 36 per cent Y/Y as falling prices were needed to stem even steeper demand falloff,” said Paul Gagnon, DisplaySearch Director TV Market Research. “With future investment in capacity expansion on hold at almost every plasma panel maker except Panasonic, improvements in technology, such as greater luminance efficiency and more efficient manufacturing at existing fabs, will be the key areas of investment to maintain cost competitiveness against future LCD fab capacity expansion.”

Additional developments from the Q1’09 shipment results include 50″+ share of shipments reached a new high of 33 per cent in Q1’09 from 30 per cent in Q4’08 as the 32″ market subsides and plasma TV brands focus on the 50″+ market where they remain more competitively priced than LCD.

1080p, the shorthand name for a category of HDTV video mode, share of shipments dipped slightly from 25 per cent in Q4’08 to 22 per cent in Q1’09 as manufacturers focused on offering the lowest priced products to consumers, such as 42″ and 50″ 720p models, at a time when consumer price sensitivity continues to climb.


As the 32″ shipment share declined, most of the share was picked up at 50″ with a smaller share increase at 42″. 46″ shipment share continues to struggle to rise over three per cent of unit volume for two reasons. 42″ and 50″ HD products are priced at very compelling levels, and competitive 46″ and 47″ 1080p LCDs are priced similarly to 46″ 1080p plasma, limiting growth.