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Forget 4K TVs for five years

Thu, 10/04/2012 - 2:00pm
Brian Santo

Sales for ultrahigh definition TVs – aka 4K TVs – are likely to remain negligible for the foreseeable future, with shipments accounting for no more than 1 percent of the global liquid crystal display (LCD) TV market during the next five years.

Worldwide shipments of 4K LCD-TVs will rise to 2.1 million units in 2017, up from 4,000 in 2012, according to IHS.

The 4K TVs have a pixel format of 3,840 by 2,160, roughly four times that of current high-definition sets. IHS said it believes that neither consumers nor television brands will have the interest required to make the 4K LCD-TV market successful.

“If you have a television that is 60-inches or larger and are watching video that has a 3,840 by 2,160 resolution, then a 4K television makes sense,” said Tom Morrod, director, TV systems and technology research for IHS. “However, a very limited amount of content is available at the 4K resolution. Meanwhile, because of high prices and other issues, the market for super-sized, 60-inch and larger sets is very small—at only about 1.5 percent of total television shipments in 2012. Furthermore, for most people, the 1,080p resolution is good enough. Because of these factors, combined with the massive price tags, the market for 4K sets during the next few years will be limited to very wealthy consumers or to commercial uses.”

On the other side of the equation, leading television brands may be viewing 4K merely as a transitional product.

“The 4K sets can fill the gap at the high-end of television brands’ product lines until the arrival of the next-generation active-matrix organic light-emitting diodes televisions (AMOLED TVs),” Morrod said. “Japanese brands are offering 4K product because they need to have a competitive alternative to the AMOLED TVs being sold by their rivals in South Korea, Samsung and LG Electronics. Meanwhile, the South Korean companies are having difficulties producing AMOLED panels, saying they will need two more years to achieve competitive volume and pricing. Therefore, the Korean brands are offering 4K sets as a transitional step until their AMOLED televisions are more widely available.”

Sony Corp. announced an 84-inch 4K LCD-TV priced at $25,000. LG Electronics also has an 84-inch LCD-TV, which it lists at $20,000. Toshiba Corp. is offering a 55-inch model priced at $10,000. Chinese brands Hisense and Konka announced that they will launch 84-inch 4K sets this year.

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