Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. — The Red Queen, “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll.
The plasma manufacturers must be feeling as though they have fallen through the looking glass themselves. According to a release from industry watcher DisplayBank, plasma panel shipments increased 19.4% from 2006 to 2007, from 10.1 to 12.1 million pieces. Not too shabby. However, the average selling price for those panels fell 28.8% over the same period, resulting in a 15.0% decline in total revenues. Hmmm… build more, but earn less. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.
When you look across the looking glass at the LCD manufacturers’ world, the picture is different. Shipments were up 41.1% (57.4% if you measure the total area shipped instead of individual units), and the average selling price was only down 3.8%. However, the net result was a 35.7% increase in total revenues. Now that sounds more like it.
It looks like plasma will have to do better than “all the running” they can do if they’re going to stand still in this market. There are some developments in the labs that may help them go faster — more energy efficient designs and thinner, lighter panel designs — but the question is whether or not these can come to market in time to slow the LCD advance as that technology takes over the flat panel display market.