Sales of LCD panels in Europe have defied price increases to beat all predictions for the first quarter of 2004.
Strong corporate sales and aggressive marketing of 17in LCD monitors have been cited as key reasons for the growth noted by Meko's DisplayCast research.
Although panel prices started to rise in Q4 2003 and a slowdown in LCD take-up was expected, the strength of the euro and sterling versus the dollar has helped keep prices competitive. This resulted in an increase in overall penetration of LCDs from 54 per cent in Q4 2003 to 58.5 per cent in Q1 2004.
It is expected that 15in LCDs, particularly entry-level models, will continue to be scarce, although expensive high-end models are available.
"The concern is that there is likely to be significant channel inventory following price reductions during Q1, particularly at the end of that period," said Pete Gamby, research director at Meko.
"With a seasonal slow-down in demand in Q2 and a rumoured clear-out of 17in panels by Samsung, there could be big problems in the market in the next few months."
John Turner, business manager at distributor Midwich, agreed. "In the UK, especially in April and May, there was probably more product than demand," he said. "In June, demand will pick up again. Q1 this year was fantastic, though, with 100 per cent growth over Q1 last year."
The decline in CRT monitor unit sales was 21 per cent sequentially, and 22 per cent year on year. For LCD monitors, overall unit sales were down sequentially by 7.5 per cent but grew year on year by 36 per cent. In terms of LCD volume shipped, Hewlett-Packard topped the chart with a small lead over Dell.
Samsung took third place, particularly in 17in monitors, which were up 25 per cent on Q4 2003. Acer continued its assault on the European IT market and its monitor shipments were up by nearly 80 per cent year on year.
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