Panel beaters

The ubiquitous nature of flat-screen displays combined with shifting market demand towards notebook PCs is forcing desktop monitor manufacturers and their channel partners to reconsider their approach to the market.

Tags: BenQ CorporationDell CorporationHPLCDLG ElectronicsNEC CorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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Panel beaters Manish Bakshi, BenQ.
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By  Aaron Greenwood Published  December 13, 2010

The wholesale market shift that occurred earlier this decade from CRT to digital displays undoubtedly remains the watershed moment for the desktop monitor market.

In the intervening years, the trend towards notebook PCs in the consumer and enterprise sectors has resulted in mixed fortunes for monitor manufacturers, who have been forced to accelerate their development of new display technologies to provide a point of difference in a market place driven by high-tech demands.

As a result, what was once perceived as a static technology in terms of its development is now recognised as one of its most advanced, largely driven by demand for ultra-thin, high-definition monitors in the digital design, gaming and high-end markets.

Still, this trend is a relatively recent one mirroring technological trends in the consumer and public display sectors, where the emergence of LED technology has provided a welcome boost in driving consumer sales in 2010.

Against a bleak 12-month period in 2008, where desktop monitor sales fell 17% year-on-year in the EMEA region, sales results in the latter half of 2009 and into 2010 have yielded encouraging results for the industry, particularly given the depressed state of the market in the post-recessionary period.

The latest EMEA sales results tabled by market research analyst Meko found that the market grew 9% year-on-year to reach more than 11.5 million units in the region in the first quarter of 2010, building on the 6.6% reported in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Meko analyst director Andy Barker says the results indicate the desktop monitor market remains fragile, particularly given its dire showing in 2008-2009.

“The monitor market is at last showing gradual recovery following the recession, but the increases are against poor trading periods in 2009 and we are doubtful that, in value terms, it will be positive,” he explains.

“Brands saw an increase in corporate refresh rates as Windows 7 projects are now being implemented, plus we are seeing an increase in the attachment rate of monitors to mobile PCs. However, the recovery in the market is fragile and early indicators suggest that trading conditions remain challenging, with signs that a price war is developing as brands try to maintain or grow their share.”

Interestingly, the market for multi-function desktop monitors capable of displaying a variety of media, including receiving television broadcasts, remains peculiarly strong in the EMEA region, according to Barker. More than 1.6 million and 1.1 million units were shipped in Q4, 2009, and Q1, 2010 respectively.

“Feedback from our partners around the world indicates that the strength of the MFM segment is unique to the EMEA region. Other regions do not sell the concept as well to their IT channels and MFMs present a good opportunity for brands which have the ability to deal with the technical complexities of producing monitors with TV capabilities for the EMEA market,” Barker added.

Overall, the importance of cutting-edge technology to desktop monitor sales is reflected in the sales results reported by the industry’s major players.

“Brands that have done well include AOC, LG, NEC, HP, Dell and BenQ while brands such as Samsung, Acer, Hannspree and Fujitsu have seen year-on-year decreases,” confirms Barker.

“The surveyed period saw brands such as AOC record growth of over 150%, while other brands performed quite poorly in testing conditions,” he adds.

AOC has built a solid reputation in recent years for its focus on cutting-edge technology. Last month, the company released what it claims is the world’s thinnest LED desktop monitor in the Middle East. At just 1.29cm thick, the monitor also features an impressive contrast ratio of 50,000,000:1 and eco options, including a 50% power saving capability.

Suchit Kumar, deputy general manager of sales for MENA, CIS and Central Asia for AOC, says that while LCD technology still dominates with an estimated 75% share of the desktop monitor market in the Middle East, LED technology is fast making inroads. “We expect LED to corner 50% of the desktop monitor market in 2011, particularly as prices begin to stabilise,” he says. “Monitors remain the most important component of any PC package in terms of sales. A good monitor can always enhance the value of a PC deal.”

Kumar claims the impact of the recession has caused a shift in market dynamics, particularly among vendors.

“The monitor business has always been challenging and the post-recessionary period has seen the exit of many smaller brands, creating space for bigger players like ourselves,” he says.

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