Tuesday, February 5, 2008

CRT Well on its Way O-U-T

A new study from DisplaySearch reports something that we've already known for a long time: the traditional CRT (cathode ray tube) display is on its way o-u-t as flat-panel technologies like LCD, plasma, and OLED take over. What we fail to remember, however, is that flat screens aren't just used in those fancy-schmancy TVs that hang atop your fireplace or sit discreetly atop a lowboy stand. They are also used in everything from mobile phones, to multifunction printers, and even calculators! And this market accounts for a lot more of the growth in the flat-panel arena than we often give it credit.

In Q3 2007, digital photo frames actually led the market in growth for display applications, at 2,706% year-over-year growth, followed by 119% for industrial displays, 112% for home appliances, 98% for head-up displays, which are those you'd find in vehicles, and 62% for office products.

"Mundane consumer electronics products are getting a facelift, including applications that provided graphics information, sich as multi-function printers, and head-up displays are also becoming more prevalent," said David Barnes, Vice President of Strategic Analysis for DisplaySearch.

But back to the dwindling CRT format: while overall CRT shipments will drop from 198 million units in 2005 to a mere 26 million in 2015, flat-panels, and especially LCDs, will reach 5,440 million from just 3,177 million.

Across the gamut of sizes, from a mere 1" to a massive 100", LCD share will continue to rise: in 2007, 70% of all flat-panels were LCD. However, it's worth noting that the emerging OLED technology could account for as much as 8% of all flat-panel shipments by 2015. Meanwhile, CRT will fall to less than 1%.

[Photo: Sony showed off its attractive, and somewhat futuristic-looking, 11" OLED at the 2008 International CES. The product is actually available in stores today, although at quite a hefty price: about US$1,800. As OLED becomes easier and more cost-effective to implement into larger designs, we'll likely see many more products come to fruition].

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