How to Make a Fortune in HDTV

One of my favorite jokes goes something like this:

Q: How can you make a small fortune in the HDTV business?

A: Well, first you start with a large fortune, and ….

Given the steep competition between technologies, and between manufacturers within the same technology segment, many business strategies seem to be a race to see who can lose the most money the fastest. Competition for retail customers is also steep, so many stores are working with small margins. And a sudden price drop can leave you with inventory that cost you more than you get for it in sales. The shipping companies like UPS and the freight firms are probably doing a fair amount of business moving HDTV boxes around the country, but rising energy costs make even that a scary proposition these days.

So what would I do if I wanted to make a lot of money in the HDTV market? I’d probably build stands. Yup, furniture that all these big screens will sit on.

The fact is that most people don’t hang their big plasma and LCD displays on the wall, in spite of what the pretty pictures in the catalogs might suggest. Hanging on a wall takes special (and expensive) brackets, and you’ve got to be careful how they’re attached because 100 pounds of 50-inch plamsa panel taking a six-foot drop is not going to be good for the display or the wall or whatever is underneath it when it lets go. And then there’s the problem of getting all the wires to where they need to go.

So people put their fancy new plasma or LCD or rear-projection displays on a stand. And these things aren’t cheap! $350 for a three-shelf stand suitable for a 32″ HDTV is not an uncommon price. For larger displays, it’s easy to spend two or three times that much. All that for a couple boards and some glass? I can buy a leather sofa for less than that!

So dust off those high school shop skills and buy some chrome and some smoked glass, and maybe you can make your own fortune in HDTV.