After spending years trying to make TVs flatter, curved TVs emerged again last year.
NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that curved TV display shipments will reach nearly 800K units in 2014, and are expected to exceed 6M units by the end of 2017. Curved TV is a design differentiator that is expected to reach its peak in LCD TVs in 2016, and growing shipments of OLED TVs are forecast to boost curved TV shipments in 2017.
The global TV market reached a peak in 2011, and after two straight years of declines in shipments and revenues, brands are exploring many avenues to revitalize the market, including OLED displays, curved screens, and increased resolution (4K or Ultra-HD).
"The novelty of curved screens is expected to wear off with time, leading to shipments peaking and then trailing off," said Paul Gray, director of European TV research for NPD DisplaySearch. "Even so, curved screens will have completed the important task of differentiating new high-end models, thereby helping to boost overall value in the global television market."
Curved LCD displays emerged as a spoiler for new OLED models at IFA 2013. With Samsung, LGE, and several Chinese brands all showing curved screen LCD TV models at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), they are now more commonly seen in the market. "Brands are not staking their futures only in curved screens or any other single feature, but are instead exploring a whole mix of features to attract TV buyers," Gray noted.
In addition to curved screens, TV manufacturers are leveraging other technologies to increase TV sales. Although widely promoted, OLED TVs still face significant manufacturing problems and at best only 100K will ship in 2014, with annual shipments exceed a million only in 2016. "LCD has proved a tough act to beat, because it is a mature, efficiently-manufactured technology, with a surprising amount of room for innovation," according to Gray.
The Netflix announcement of 4K streaming services in 2014 provided convincing content to support expansion of the category. Shipments of ultra-high-definition (UHD) 4K TVs are forecast to exceed 12M units in 2014, rising to 62M in 2017. Demand and shipments of 4K TVs will be dominated by China, with 83% of 4K TV shipments in 2013, falling to 46% in 2017, as the rest of the world catches up. "4K TV is currently grabbing a lot of headlines, but it would not have been possible to deliver 4K, had there not been investment in connected TVs, over the past five years," Gray said.