Report From the Front Line A Buying Group Roundtable
Lawrence is watching price declines as well, but sees a plus side. "The good news: it makes it more affordable to more customers and I look at that as, if you believe in the expansion of HDTV programming, it puts a lot of pressure on the broadcasters to expand HDTV broadcast," he says.
Mann is bullish on the category. "We are very fond of LCD for the fine grain and the picture quality, and while it has some problems, we did very, very well with LCD [in 2004]," he says. "I'd say we didn't do as well with plasma. But now with plasma so aggressive in price points, we're sure to get that going. As we look forward, we had a good year in widescreen glass sets and I think we'll have a great year this year."
For Mann, price drops are inevitable. "If you're in the retail business and you're worried about price drops, you might as well blow your brains out. It's part and parcel of the industry," he says. Still, he admits the danger of commoditization. "It changes the complexion of things," he notes. "DVD players are an unimportant commodity for our membership. Any time a retail selling floor has a product below $100, it's hardly worth the effort."