Flat panel TV pricess will fall 30% in 2004

Shoppers looking for deep bargains on expensive flat-panel televisions will find only marginal discounts as the holiday season heats up, but experts say prices will tumble by some 30% in 2004. Currently, flat panel TV sales are still dwarfed by sales of bulky old-fashioned TVs, which still cost considerably less. A 27 inch flat panel TV can cost over $2000, more than 10 times what a similar-sized boxy TV would cost.

Global production of LCD TVs will more than double next year to between eight and 10 mil sets from about four mil in 2003, analyst say. That is out of a total TV market of about 150 mil units. As a result, prices for 30-to-39 inch LCD TVs may tumble as much as 38% next year, to about $3,000 from $4,800, IDC’s O’Donnell anticipates. Wargo, of the Consumer Electronics Association, sees LCD TVs in the range of 17-20 inches dropping to about $700 next year from around $1,000. “Maybe less,” he added. “It depends on how quickly that capacity comes online.”

That rush to make screens is borne of a need to fill demand for flat panel displays in everything from wide-screen TVs to laptop computers to handheld personal digital assistants. Samsung Corp. is the most aggressive investor in flat screens at the moment. It announced a $16.6 bil spending plan for the next 10 years and agreed to a $2 bil deal with Japan’s Sony Corp. to boost production.

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