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Shipments of 4K TVs rise sharply in March

Fri, 05/16/2014 - 12:37pm
Brian Santo

Shipments of ultra HD (UHD, aka 4K) TV panel shipments almost tripled from February to March, from 384,000 units to 1.1 million units, according to IHS Technology.

Shipments were accelerated to China in advance of that country’s Labor Day holiday at the beginning of May, which is somewhat akin to the holiday season in the U.S. China has been the most enthusiastic market for UHD so far, IHS reports. Some shipments were in anticipation of the FIFA World Cup in June. Also, South Korean service providers recently began broadcasting a 4K channel.

“From the time UHD TV panels were introduced to the world for the first time in 2012, demand for these cutting-edge displays has been slow in growing, mainly because the televisions using the panels have proved prohibitively expensive,” said Linda Lin, senior analyst for large displays at HIS Technology. “But with the technology becoming more pervasive, coupled with increasingly aggressive marketing from panel manufacturers, UHD TV panels are starting to take off.”

Four of the market’s six panel makers enjoyed shipment growth rates last month exceeding 100 percent compared to February levels.

Taiwan’s Innolux led the market in March. Its shipments for 50-inch panels alone amounted to approximately 210,000 units, making up 47 percent of the firm’s total UHD TV panel deliveries.

In second place was Samsung Display Co. (SDC) of South Korea, whose 55-inch panels climbed 160 percent for the month. SDC also mass-produced new 40- and 48-inch UHD TV panels for the first time.

In third place was fellow Korean maker LG Display Co. (LGD), which also enjoyed the biggest month-to-month growth at 395 percent. It shipped new 42-inch UHD panels for the first time while also doubling shipments in 49-, 55-, and 65-inch panels.

Even though South Korean makers are late to the UHD TV panel market, they are now beginning to launch lower-cost UHD TV displays, including the so-called “Green” panels from SDC and G+ panels LGD. The Green panel, for instance, allows the reduction of UHD panel manufacturing costs by using fewer display driver integrated circuits and a different pixel pattern with only three-quarters of true 3180 x 2160 UHD resolution, IHS noted.

But even if the picture quality for lower-cost Green UHD panels is not nearly as good as those with true UHD resolutions, the cheaper cost of the former is catching the attention of TV vendors, IHS believes.

Other top global UHD TV panel makers include AUO of Taiwan in fourth place, China’s CSOT in fifth, and Japan’s Sharp in sixth. The top four makers each had monthly shipment growth rates surpassing 100 percent, while AUO and CSOT each saw shipments in March rise by more than 50 percent.

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