Plasma Market Share Hits 15-Month Low As LCD TVs Dominate

Mike Wheatley

Is plasma TV soon to become a thing of the past? The display technology, which was once the number one choice for buyers of flat-screen televisions, has just seen its market share slump in the USA to a new 15-month low, as its long and drawn-out fall from grace continues in the wake of LCD TV’s dominance.

Plasma TV
Plasma market share hits 15-month low as LCD TVs dominate

The latest IHS iSuppli U.S. TV Price & Specifications Market Tracker report showed that sales of plasma TVs in the United States have slipped to their lowest level since the first quarter of 2011, commanding just 13.3% of the market last July, down from 14.9% in the previous month and 15% just twelve months ago. This represents plasma’s worst performance since March 2011, when its market share slipped to just 11.6%.

Despite being able to offer deeper blacks and a superior contrast ratio, plasma televisions have played second fiddle to LCD TV displays for several years now, with LCDs benefiting from advances in LED backlighting and motion compensation technology. Add to these the lower power consumption and weight of LCD TVs, and it’s not difficult to see why plasma has been left trailing in its dust.

Pricing is one key factor that IHS Suppli highlighted in their latest report. Rising costs have led to a disincentive among buyers to purchase plasma TV sets, whose average retail price in the US climbed to $1,621 in July. While this is still cheaper than the $1,649 price tag in May, it is significantly higher than pricing levels seen in Q1’12, as manufacturers focus on making larger and higher quality plasmas.

Plasma television prices also compare poorly to the price of similarly-sized LCD TVs, whose average retail price fell to just $1,171 in July from $1,194 in June. LCD televisions saw prices fall over the last month in all categories – including Smart TVs, 3D models, thin-panel LED models and HDTV sets – as retailers and brands competed aggressively in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics.

So what does the future hold for plasma display panel (PDP) technology?

In the long term things are not looking good, especially with OLED TV set to become the next big thing in display technology. Short-term however, plasma might just experience a mini-revival as prices could well come down in the next few months. In the first half of last year, PDP experienced a similar decline in market share only to bounce back in the third and fourth quarters as TV makers and retailers offered significant discounts for Christmas. December saw prices fall to an average $1,494 and the resulting sales pick up a notch or two, something that is likely to be repeated this year as winter draws close.