By Chris Nicholls

AUSTIN, TEXAS: CRT televisions have ousted plasma from second spot on the television shipment charts for North America for Q1 this year, on the back of demand for low-cost digital TVs, closeout prices and strong demand from Canada.

The DisplaySearch figures showed the old technology regained favour with North American audiences, as bargain hunters on both sides of the border moved on closeout pricing and Canadians took advantage of laws that allow sets there to be sold without a mandatory digital tuner, resulting in lower prices.

CRT’s rise helped push US total shipments up for the first time in three consecutive quarters, to 7.5 million units.

Despite the slow Northern American sales, plasma shipments increased 20 per cent worldwide, to 2.8 million units. However, DisplaySearch said most of this came from 32-inch size shipments. Panasonic retained top spot in plasma, with 33.7 per cent global market share in the sector. Samsung came in second at 22.7 per cent, while LG rounded out the top three at 16.4 per cent.

The big growth story came from LCD televisions, though, with a 45 per cent rise in shipments for Q1, despite total global market growth stagnant at just one per cent. Previous quarter growth for Q4 07 was five per cent.

DisplaySearch said the stagnation could be down to a weaker US economy affecting sales in larger sizes and snowstorms in China pushed some Chinese flat panel demand into Q2 08.
As a result, total shipments in Q1 08 were 46.1 million units worldwide, with a revenue value of US$24.8 billion. The numbers represent eight per cent revenue growth from Q1 07 to Q1 08, which the company put down to continued average sales price gains, particularly in developing nations.

The report predicted that, despite the global economic slowdown, flat panel TV demand “seems likely to be strong overall in 2008”, as manufacturers used smaller screen sizes and low-cost models to stimulate demand.

Samsung held the top revenue spot worldwide for the ninth straight quarter, breaking the 20 per cent share barrier for the first time on 39 per cent growth, year-on-year. The company also had top unit share. Sony held onto its number two spot by revenue for the third straight quarter, with LG third. LG held number two unit share, though, due to a lower average sales price.