Emerging Industry Overview: Video Displays

Industry Snapshot

In the early 2000s, flat panel displays (FPDs) were the primary replacement technology for cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, which hitherto dominated the display market. The technology was simultaneously finding new applications in a wide array of consumer electronics--not only traditional television and computer screens but also smaller, portable devices such as cell phones, digital cameras, and other gadgetry. In 2007, the global sale of liquid crystal displays (LCDs), the most common form of FPD, surpassed those of CRT devices for the first time. Following behind were plasma panels and (way behind), the struggling OLED (organic light emitting diode) display panels.

Different market conditions influence demand for the various types of advanced displays, but especially in the consumer market, a common theme is pricing. Advanced displays commanded steep prices, often several thousand dollars per unit, and this delayed wider rollout. However, prices of LCDs later dropped. For televisions, mandatory conversion in the United States (and several other countries) from analog to digital signals in 2008 resulted in many consumers purchasing new television sets instead of converting their old CRTs, creating a temporary surge in new flat panel sales. However, while production was up--worldwide a record 117.9 million large LCD panels were shipped during the second quarter of 2008--demand soon fell, due to a slowing U.S. economy. This resulted in a drop in prices on most units. By 2010, the market had stabilized, with LCD models leading plasma flat panel screen models.