Weaker demand due to the global economic crisis began impacting plasma panel makers in fourth quarter of 2008. Plasma panel module shipments were down eight per cent quarter-on-quarter and 12 per cent year-on-year to 3.8 million units.
This is the first year-on- year decline since second quarter 2007 and two per cent lower than expected, according to the latest DisplaySearch Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report, Plasma and LCD TV Panel Shipment Module.
Plasma panel shipment had seen growth in recent quarters as 32-inch demand surged in emerging markets and prices for larger sizes fell to popular price levels.
Total plasma panel shipments for 2008 were 15.1 million, very close to matching DisplaySearch's prediction at the beginning of the year. This represents a 26 per cent increase from 2007, stronger growth than was seen the previous year. Panasonic was the only panel maker to see year-on-year unit growth in fourth quarter 2008, expanding its unit share to 47 per cent, followed by Samsung SDI (26 per cent) and LGE (20 per cent).
Price erosion took a toll on revenue growth with revenues falling 13 per cent quarter-on-quarter 21 per cent year-on-year. However, 2008 annual revenues showed positive growth at six per cent.
Additional notable developments from the fourth quarter 2008 shipment results include: 1080p share of plasma panel unit shipments grew to record levels in fourth quarter of 2008, capturing 25 per cent of total shipments and rising to a record 960,000 units. Panasonic remained the dominant supplier of 1080p plasma panels, accounting for 78 per cent of units shipped. Samsung was the No2 1080p plasma panel supplier at 12 per cent units share.
50-inch shipment share fell from 29 per cent to 27 per cent in fourth quarter 2008. This was due to a share increase for 42-inch, which grew from 49 per cent to 53 per cent in fourth quarter 2008 due to lower pricing, an important consideration among recession-impacted consumers. Until third quarter 2008, 32-inch was an important growth category for plasma panels.
But 32-inch shipment share fell in fourth quarter of 2008 due to 32-inch LCD price erosion, which eliminated a pricing advantage for 32-inch plasma panels. The 32-inch plasma panel shipments fell 47 per cent quarter-on-quarter to just 260,000 units from a peak of more than 538,000 in first quarter of 2008.
"The 2008 plasma panel shipment result of 15.1 million is very close to what we expected. A yearly growth rate of 26 per cent also looks quite good. In addition, 1080p PDP share is increasing, led by Panasonic, and improves plasma's competitiveness against LCD," said Y S Chung, DisplaySearch Director of Display Technology and Materials.
"However, due to the demand reduction brought about by the economic crisis and manufacturing line shut downs by each plasma panel maker, it is hard to expect optimistic results for 2009 PDP shipments. It is also hard to expect positive revenue growth in 2009 due to LCD's price erosion and move into 50-inch plus sizes."
"On the other hand, major PDP makers have adopted higher luminous efficiency technology for new 2009 models, combining higher brightness with lower power consumption," Chung said. "Greater luminous efficiency makes it possible to adopt lower voltages and lower current components, which will bring additional cost savings. These are optimistic factors for the 2009 market."
For 2008, the top plasma panel suppliers were Panasonic with 36 per cent and Samsung SDI with 29 per cent, followed by LGE with 27 per cent. Since Hitachi and Pioneer will withdraw from plasma module production in the first half of 2009, only three major panel makers are left in the industry.