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LCD prices set to fall

Senior executives at major monitor vendors have predicted further erosion in LCD monitor prices due to an excess of glass panels in the market while CRT prices look set to go higher.

Monitor channels are braced for yet more LCD price falls over the next six months due to excess glass panel production, according to senior executives in the IT industry. The market has been flooded with glass panels, the core component of LCD displays, which has resulted in prices tumbling.

“Panel manufacturers had been giving greater focus to the LCD TV industry as this product enjoys higher margins,” noted K Vasudevan, senior manager at Samsung’s Gulf Electronics IT division. “But LCD TV sales in Western Europe and US markets have been lower than vendors expected. So panel availability has shifted to the monitor industry, and supply is outstripping demand.”

Middle East consumers could see prices fall dramatically mirroring similar shifts in Asia, where 17” LCD monitors sell for as little as US$240. While good news for end-users, the channel also needs to be aware that long-term prices may fall much further. A wave of sixth and seventh generation glass factories — able to produce larger size LCD panels — are due to be completed by the end of this year and will fuel the supply of glass panels for the monitor industry.

Rather than being plagued by price falls, older generation CRT monitors are seeing the opposite trend take effect. “CRT costs have risen across the board for all sizes over the past few months and are currently holding stable,” explained Mayank Christian, business manager for multimedia displays at Philips Middle East and Africa.

“There is a huge shortage of 15” CRT tubes therefore the price hike is the greatest for 15” CRT monitors, but there is also supply pressure on CRT 17” tubes at this moment due to glass shortages. Prices may rise again, but with the fall of LCD panel prices, CRT costs should hold steady or even go back to ‘normal’ by the end of 2004.”

Several vendors may be kicking themselves for leaving the CRT market early and committing themselves solely to LCD production. However it seems that finally the days of CRT may be numbered. One source in the monitor industry claims that 15” CRT monitors will be phased out by the middle of 2005. With falling LCD prices, consumers and businesses will be even more tempted to switch completely to LCD monitors.

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