North American buyers of plasma displays (and 20+ inch LCD displays) have recently put a dent in the “bigger is better” theory commonplace in the market for large flat panel displays (FPDs), according Pacific Media Associates (PMA), the Menlo Park, Calif.-based market research firm that tracks

the Worldwide large-screen display market.

The latest results compiled in the monthly Plasma/LCD Displays Reseller Tracking Service show that during the October 2002 through February 2003 period, the sub-40 inch size category grew from a 12 per cent share to a 22 per cent one, a near-doubling in size, which is dramatic in such a short period of time.

Rosemary Abowd, who directs PMA’s research efforts in large FPDs, thinks that an important factor in this growth was the seven per cent decline in average street price, in contrast to less than one per cent price movements for size categories of 40 inches and above.

A second factor that likely also helped considerably was the strongly increasing role of Sony’s consumer models in this size range. Sony now has a share of over 50 per cent of the sub-40 inch market, she says.

The large FPD market is still behaving like the Wild West with dramatic shifts in product preferences, market shares, and distribution channels. But given the continued depressed state of the American economy, it is not surprising that buyers are opting for the lower-priced smaller screens. And even though the screens are smaller, on average they have higher resolutions than many 42-inch models, so that they provide a good picture even if viewed from relatively short distances.

William Coggshall is the president of Pacific Media Associates.

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