By the end of the year, total UHD TV panels will amount to 3.1 million units, a hefty increase in light of the starting low base last year of just 30,000 units. With high growth rates forecast for the next year, most panel suppliers are planning various lineups and aggressive shipment targets expected to exceed 20 million units in 2014.
UHD panels offer four times the resolution of 1080p Full HD displays. In the fast-maturing TV space where high-definition sets have become common among consumers, the new panels are a way for the TV industry to push for new sales and revenue streams. The panels are also seeking to fill a vacuum created after another advanced display mechanism, the much-hyped organic light-emitting-diode (OLED) technology, failed to make a dent in the market, given problematic production and yield issues.
As OLED TV sales have been unable to drive new demand in the premium TV space, panel makers are setting their sights on UHD TV panels to entice consumers in 2014.
What has proved to daunting to potential buyers, however, is the high price of TVs using UHD panels?currently at the $5,000 range for the 60-inch-and-larger sizes of major brands. As a result, uptake of the sets has been slow and cautious. Panel makers, in turn, aren't able to make as many units as they hope without sufficient traction from retail.
UHD TV panel shipments in the third quarter were highest from Taiwan's Innolux and CSOT of China, both of which make lower-priced UHD panels compared to those supplied by panel makers like Sharp of Japan, as well as Samsung Display Corp. and LG Display of South Korea. Innolux and CSOT together accounted for a whopping 82 percent of UHD TV shipments during the July to September period, leading the rest of the market.
Innolux alone shipped 750,000 UHD TV panels, or 64 percent of the total, with relatively smaller-sized products such as 39-, 42- and 50-inch panels.
IHS says that the market as a whole will continue to be spurred by panels under 60-inches, with both LG Display and Samsung Display venturing into that under 50-inch panels by the end of the year.
Notwithstanding the high retail price of UHD TV sets, pricing for the panels has been falling. Panel prices for the 65-inch fell 30 percent to $1,000 in September from $1,500 in April. Panel pricing has slipped even more for the 55-inch, down from $850 to $500, or a 41 percent drop.
Suppliers are likely to keep up their aggressive approach to pricing as they seek to expand the UHD market.