TV screens are set to change from being not only thinner but packed with new capability, according to Tim Herbert, Senior Director of Market Research at the Consumer Electronic Association. He also tips some major innovation taking place on a number of fronts with a host of new display technologies and capabilities set to be revealed at the 2009 CES show in Las Vegas in January.
In a feature written originally for Dealerscope, Herbert says that the display market is the largest sector of the CE industry, with shipment revenues expected to hit $27.8 by the end of this year. It’s also probably the most fiercely competitive sector in the industry.
Energy Efficiency and Green Designs
Although televisions rank behind many household appliances in terms of energy consumption, manufacturers and consumers will seek greater efficiencies in all their powered products. This stems from a desire to reduce expenditures on electricity but also to embrace a “green” lifestyle of reduced wastes and strain on the environment. Beyond maximizing the energy efficiency of existing technologies, such as LCD or plasma, several manufacturers hope to disrupt the market with new approaches such as OLED, laser TV and LED backlighting. Nearly nine in ten consumers rate energy efficiency as a desirable trait of their next television purchase.
Enhancing the Viewing Experience and Product Design
Better picture quality, thinner displays, new form factors and 3-D images are or will be upon us soon. Full HD has quickly become the near default high-definition television. CEA expects 55 percent of HDTVs shipped into the marketplace next year will be 1080p displays, up from 34 percent in 2008. Incremental improvements also give way to new technologies. Eighty percent of consumers would like even better picture quality, while 73 percent hope for a thinner shape and 41 percent would like a more elegant design.
Despite the lackluster embrace of the 3-D movie experience, manufacturers and studios remain optimistic about 3-D’s potential. About one-third of consumers responded with interest in 3-D television, which signals they are intrigued by the concept but not completely familiar with the technology.
Displays Move Beyond the Living Room
One of the most interesting areas of development for displays has been outside the confines of the standard living room television stand or mount; think backyards, floors, restaurant menus, gas pumps or subway walls. On the commercial side, video displays continue to make their presence felt in a number of ways. Undoubtedly, consumer attention will gravitate towards what’s most interesting, a fact not lost on developers of next generation display technology and advertisers.
Children may help drive the market for backyard movie equipment. The thought of watching a Disney movie under the stars with the family led to relatively strong interest among parents with children (20 percent vs. 9 percent for households without children).
Connectivity Completes the 360-Degree Experience
According to comScore, Americans viewed 11.4 billion online videos during July for a total of 558 million hours. With more content available online and faster broadband connections, some consumers began viewing online video as a substitute rather than a complement to their TV. According to the research, 61 percent of consumers say they see Internet connectivity as a desirable feature of their next television purchase. While this is a high figure, keep in mind it falls well behind many other criteria, so at this stage it may still be premature to declare this convergence a done deal. Nonetheless, many of the pieces have fallen into place to enable more efficient connectivity within the living room. Whether it’s a set-top box, a media extender, or a direct connection to the television itself, consumers have more choices than ever to expand their content offerings.
Connectivity may also entail eliminating wires within the home theater set-up. With nearly three-fourths of consumers wanting wireless connectivity, the market potential for technologies solving this issue shows tremendous upside. While the interest is certainly there, manufacturers must remember that consumers have little tolerance for television disruptions.
Don’t expect another concentrated upgrade cycle on the scale of the transition from analog to digital television. The industry will soon hit the physical limits of human senses. Greater advancements in picture resolution will eventually be undetectable by the human eye. Most consumers will live happily ever after with a 4-inch deep flat panel display, so ultra thinness may not be the next big thing either. Energy efficiency and connectivity will likely have the biggest impact on the display market in the short to mid-term.
At some point though, all TV manufacturers have a brand or model with these traits, so any competitive advantage by a first mover quickly disappears. In the slightly more distant future, look for flexible displays in everything from “smart” wallpaper to folding pocket displays to interactive digital billboards to make their mark on how society interacts with information.