Plasma TV makers surge back after being written off

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 6:00 pm

Given up for dead less than a year ago, plasma TVs are making a comeback, with manufacturers boosting sales forecasts amid a continued shortage of LCD TVs and surging demand in developing countries.

“Plasma isn’t going to disappear,” said Jeff Kim, an analyst at Seoul’s Hyundai Securities. “It is still competitive in large formats, and will compete until 2010.”

In less than two years, plasma-display technology has gone from dominant format to afterthought, then back to a viable option. In early 2006, plasma was the cheapest and most available choice in the 40-inch flat-panel TV market due to lower production costs and an ability to make larger panels.

But only months later, LCD makers ramped up large-size production and quickly overran the market with LCD screens. Plasma makers then saw prices plummet and profits vanish.

South Korea’s Samsung SDI and LG Electronics, the world’s second- and third-ranked plasma panel makers, were particularly hard hit in 2007 due to price falls.

Plasma screens use tiny charged gas bubbles to display images and more natural color, while liquid crystal displays (LCDs) use crystals sandwiched between glass and a back-lit unit. Plasmas offer crisper picture quality but use more power and are heavier; LCDs offer brighter images but can be blurry.

Now, plasmas are on an upswing again, as flat screen TVs are snapped up in wealthy and developing countries alike.


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