LCD display sales soar so far in 2004

Monitor vendors with liquid crystal display (LCD) products are poised to take the IT market by storm in 2004. Following an extremely impressive 2003, market adoption of LCD technology is expected to continue to escalate into 2004.

Total 2004 LCD unit forecasts are 1,235,500 units, which

is a 59 per cent increase over 2003. As demand and supply pick up, the market is forecasted to cannibalize the cathode ray tube (CRT) product line. In 2003, LCD products accounted for about a third of total display shipments. In 2004, unit volume is expected to hit a minimum of almost half (49 per cent) the total monitor market. While unit prices are higher on the LCD products, compared to the CRTs, the sleek form factors, combined with the environmental friendly characteristics will encourage users to switch over to the relatively new technology. Within the product segments, the 17-inch LCD units will pick up growth. The IT distribution network will be critical in bringing the technology to the hands of both the retail and commercial channels. As prices decline, the larger products will hold a larger appeal for consumers and corporate users alike. A pent up demand in display technology will contribute to the surge in product interest. Users who waited to upgrade their displays, will capitalize on the price declines of the 17-inch LCD models throughout 2004.

Total 2003 vendor shipments were 779,000 units and represented an increase of 94% over the previous year. Strong demand and supply contributed to the growth of the product line. The distribution and reseller channels were integral in bringing the products to market to both consumers and corporate users alike. Robust activity in the fourth quarter consumer market, combined with end-of-year corporate purchaser contributed to the success of the segment.

Fifteen-inch LCD products continued to dominate LCD shipment activity and accounted for 47 per cent of 2003 unit volume. Strong adoption of the 17-inch products also occurred in 2003, as the growth in this segment was an astounding 238 per cent over 2002. This expansion is expected to be sustained throughout 2004 in this product segment. Inventory levels were strong in 2003 and are forecasted to remain so in 2004.

If 2003 is any indication of the growing market adoption of larger LCDs, 2004 will be a banner year. Shipment activity in the 18-inch LCD product segment was up a massive 205 per cent from 2002. Amazing growth was also experienced by the 19-inch segment. Vendors experienced a combined growth rate of 800 per cent in this product segment. In both these segments, success was partially due to the infancy of the segments. As the markets mature, and individual prices decline, robust adoption rates will contribute to notable market growth.

With the exception of Dell, monitor vendors rely upon reseller partners to boost market presence. Leading vendors in 2003 were Samsung and NEC-Mitsubishi. IBM, LG Electronics, ViewSonic, Philips and BenQ are also all worth noting. Combined, the top seven vendors are expected to perform well in 2004. The reseller channel was an integral component in their go-to-market strategy, and will remain critical in 2004. While PC vendors IBM and Dell will capitalize on desktop activity, monitor vendors will benefit from strong desktop sales, on behalf of systems integrators and distributor house brands.

Overall, the future is rosy for LCD vendors. The distribution and reseller channels will also benefit from the surge in product interest and in the declining unit prices, as IT spending picks up in 2004. Robust consumer and corporate adoption rates are expected to push this segment upwards.

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