Economy Plagues Plasma Panel Shipments

Plasma HD product sales, apparently pushed in the past year by a consumer urge to buy 32-inch HDTV sets, were felled by a weak fourth quarter caused by the faltering global economy . Consequently, plasma sales took a noticeable dive going into the 2008 holiday sales season, according to new data from DisplaySearch, an Austin, Texas-based consultancy. (The CEA, for its part, forecasts about 10 percent of HD set sales in 2009 will be plasma units.)

DisplaySearch said growth in plasma panel shipments was strong in the first three quarters of last year, especially for 32-inch units—even as price points continued to decline for much larger screens. But smaller demand on an increasingly troublesome economic climate took its toll by year’s end, as plasma shipments dropped from 8 percent in the third to the final quarter of 2009.

The company said total plasma panel shipments for last year were just slightly more than 15 million, which was 26 percent higher than 2007.

The only maker to show a jump in plasma shipments in the fourth quarter was Panasonic—which stretched its plasma market share to 47 percent. The 1080p format made up about 25 percent of all plasma units shipped in the final quarter.