Plasma shipments fall – again

As global demand for Plasma panels remains weak, DisplaySearch reveals that shipments from makers to brands have fallen year-on-year for the second straight quarter. Lack of demand is blamed on poor economic conditions.

According to the latest Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report, Plasma and LCD TV Panel Shipment Module from market analyst DisplaySearch, shipments fell 28 per cent Q/Q in Q1’09 and 22 per cent Y/Y to just under 2.8 million units, down from 3.5 million units in Q1’08. Most of the decline was due to 32” models being discontinued in 2009, but even 42” and 50” panel shipments fell in Q1’09. Some brands announced their withdrawal from the plasma TV business in Q1’09, like Pioneer, while other brands decided to shift away from plasma to focus on LCD TV only, like Vizio. DisplaySearch said the result was weaker than anticipated shipments as the number of brands consolidates.

“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 of North America 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.”

The top plasma panel suppliers on a unit basis were Panasonic at number one with a 37 per cent share in the first quarter of 2009 and Samsung SDI at number two with 31 per cent, followed by LGE (26 per cent). Since Hitachi and Pioneer will withdraw plasma module production in 2009, only three major panel makers are left in the plasma industry.