Quake Breaks Glass Supply

Did you notice the news reports last month about an earthquake in Japan? You may not have paid much attention, figuring that it didn’t have any direct impact on you. Well, if you’re in the market for an LCD HDTV before the end of this year, that quake could have had more impact than you thought.

As it turns out, Corning has an LCD glass production facility in Shizuoka that it had to shut down as a result of the earthquake. That created a hole in the glass supply, which in turn could have resulted in a shortage of LCD panels for the rest of the year.

The good news is that the repairs at the plant are already complete and Corning is in the process of restarting production. The company has also accelerated the schedule to restart some idle plants in Taiwan, in response to the growing demand for product. According to Corning forecasts, fourth quarter sales are now expected to be about equal with this year’s third quarter. Already, initial reports from NPD indicate that August sales of LCD TVs in the United States were up 14% over August of last year, giving a strong indication that demand is growing as consumers regain confidence in the economy and in their personal finances.

If there’s a cloud around this silver lining, it is this; Corning forecasts that demand for glass will still exceed supply. Couple that with the increasing retail sales could result in shorter supplies of HDTVs, which also could mean an increase in pricing. Fortunately, the stiff competition for holiday shopping dollars provides downward pressure on prices. Which force will win out? It’s hard to predict, but you can’t count on plummeting prices across the board on Black Friday this time around. The bottom line is that if you find a deal that gives you the set you want at a price you’re willing to pay, I recommend that you pull the trigger and buy it. Yes, you could save a little more (or spend a little more) if you wait a bit longer, but when you spread that difference over the ten years or so that you’ll own the set, the amount will be negligible.