The PC monitor or display is one of the most important parts of the system because it is the only way that a user receives visual feedback from the system. When LCD monitors arrived in India in the middle of the last decade, they were hailed as the next big thing in display technology and there was a general prediction that they will soon replace the traditional CRTs. While that didn't happen as fast as was expected, primarily due to the prohibitive prices, we find it hard to buy a CRT today because that prediction has indeed come true.
LCDs were marketed as green products because of their considerably lower power consumption when compared to CRTs. Their slim form factor occupying very little desk space was also a big advantage. Additionally, they did not emit the harmful radiations emitted by CRTs. Possibly the only con that has been quoted against LCDs was that they cannot display colour range as well as a CRT can, which is still true at least for mid and low-end products. Another problem was, and still is, LCDs display the image best at the native resolution, and it appears blurry at any other. Nevertheless, these disadvantages do not seem to bother the general consumer, thus paving way for CRTs to become obsolete.
A couple of years ago, a new technological trend started in LCD technology. The CCFL backlight that illuminates the pixels of the LCD was replaced by white LED light source. The advantage was that the new light source is brighter, consumes almost half the power that CCFL consumes, and has a longer life. Once again, as is the case with any new technology, the cost of these new displays was considerably higher than their CCFL counterparts, even though the cost to manufacture LEDs has always been lower. However, that is no longer the case, because LED-backlit LCDs are now available at almost the same price range as CCFL-backlit LCDs.
PC Monitor Sales In India
A recent research concluded by CyberMedia has tried to take a look at how the Indian consumers in 30 cities across the country have reacted to these trends in display technology. The report published by the company, takes into account the PC monitor sales in 2Q 2011 (April-June 2011) and 3Q 2011 (July-Sept 2011). It can be seen that there is a dramatic reversal in the selling trend of LEDs as against LCDs.
While 70% of the 6.3 lakh monitors sold in 2Q were LCDs and 30% were LEDs, the trend was seen to be in a state of fast reversal in 3Q, where 51% of the 7.1 lakh sales were LCDs, and LEDs were 49%. This reflects a dramatic increase of 88% in sales for LEDs, while that of LCDs declined by 14%. Of course, the main reason for the change in the trend is the fast closing price gap between these two technologies, thus allowing the consumer to embrace the new and better LED technology.
The report mentioned that LG has continued to sell the more units in 3Q 2011 than others with 31.3%, while Samsung and Acer were on second and third positions respectively. AOC and Dell have been the other manufacturers in the top 5. As far as the sales of LCDs are concerned, Samsung has been the top seller with 27.6%, followed by LG and Acer. LG sold more LEDs with 36.6%, followed by Acer and AOC at the second and third places respectively.
Southern India was found to be the largest consumer of PC monitors with 39%, followed by the western, northern, and eastern parts of the country respectively. LG was found to be dominant in southern and western India, while Acer and Dell reported half of their sales from the south. Samsung also reported selling higher in southern India, while AOC sold at the same rate in all the regions.
How Does Size Matter To The Indian Consumer?
In addition to the study of sales in relation to the technology, the report also analysed the trend in sales according to the monitor size. Interestingly, it was found that while almost every monitor size sold better, 15.6", which is the smallest available size today, shows signs of a downward trend. The possible reason could again be related to the price. Consumers do not have to pay a high premium to get an 18.6" display, hence seem to be opting more for it as against the smaller 15.6" size. The report also states that the low margins in 15.6" could be a reason why manufacturers are moving away from this size. In general, screen sizes of 20" and above have shown more improvement in sales than the smaller sizes, indicating in a general trend towards bigger screens.
Some of the additional factors affecting the consumer's buying decision have been aesthetic factors such as slimmer and better looking designs. New technologies such as 3D and HDMI have also been attracting consumers. Additionally, many manufacturers including LG, Dell, and AOC have been advocating IPS panels, which have better viewing angles and are superior to the older TN panels.
The CyberMedia report is based on sell-throughs of Tier II dealers across 30 Indian cities up to November 2011 and does not include institutional and LFT (Large Format Retail) sales. It covered five major vendors; Acer, AOC, Dell, LG, and Samsung.
The conclusion is easy to draw. Just like LCDs have made CRTs obsolete, we can expect a faster phasing out of CCFL-backlit LCDs by LED-backlit displays. High definition big screen entertainment and gaming is swaying the buying decision of the consumers, hence smaller screen sizes will also become extinct. We are not quite sure about how 3D display technology will play in the future, but we can be sure that if prices drop to a respectable level, consumers will definitely opt for displays incorporating this technology, even though it is still at a nascent stage of evolution and awaits proper standardisation.