Dog Days of Summer Breed Some Prize Pets
By the time the dog days of summer truly settle in, discussion inexorably turns back to the weather: “Hot enough for ya?” On the other hand, the word on the street regarding the CE industry might invoke an opposite season: “How cold can we get?” Actually, we have not reached that point, but there are few who would argue that concerns about the economy and the housing market have taken some of the sizzle out of CE. Of course, there is plenty to remain optimistic about, with overall sales steady and the holidays just around the corner. With consumers less eager to hit the roads and beaches, the collective retreat indoors suggests new opportunity for the industry.
On the other hand, things have never been better in select categories: flat-panel televisions are on a tear, with sales exceeding even the most cheerful expectations. Unit shipments of flat-panel displays are already at 9.2 million through May, a 43-percent increase from the same period a year ago, while revenue is just under $8 billion, a 29 percent improvement from last year. This news serves not only as a silver lining for the overall industry, but also as a warning for dealers: the accelerated dominance of flat-panel televisions is in direct contrast to the declining fortunes of direct view and rear projection displays.
With the respective proliferation and reduction unfolding faster than expected, the foreseeable future for flat panels is quite encouraging (for more sales numbers on TVs, please turn to our stats section on page 48). Correspondingly, dealers should be admonished that the future has already happened and hopes of unloading old inventory might yield less than fruitful holiday tidings. Closer examination portrays a bleak landscape for old-school TV solutions: year-to-date shipments of rear projection televisions are down 71 percent through May, while flat panels (including plasma and LCD) are up 43 percent. The verdict is in, and it is unequivocal: the production and merchandising of large screen flat panels (LCDs in particular) is not only where the opportunity exists but might present the only way to remain relevant in this space.