LCDs outsell tube televisions in Europe

Crossover to digital televisions is happening earlier than expected, with North America expected to follow suit soon.

LCD televisions outsold conventional CRTs in Europe for the first time in the third quarter, according to data released Monday by research firm DisplaySearch. And North America is next.

Worldwide, shipments of liquid crystal display TVs were up 99 percent compared with the same period last year. During the three-month period, 10.8 million units left factories, according to DisplaySearch.

The crossover to digital TVs is occurring earlier than predicted. In part, it comes from the fact that manufacturers continue to drop prices at a rapid rate. The surge can also be attributed to interest among consumers for high-definition TVs and services. Sales of LCDs will outpace cathode ray tubes (CRTs) in North America this quarter, according to DisplaySearch.

Among the digital TV standards, LCD is increasing its size over plasma. Plasma TV unit shipments were up 38 percent in North America--slightly faster than the 35 percent growth of LCDs--but down in other regions. LCD TVs traditionally have smaller screens than plasmas, but manufacturers have been upping the size. LCD manufacturers now sell 40-inch TVs--the plasma stronghold--and will try to compete in the 50-inch and larger space next year with technology that will purportedly improve picture quality.

In response, plasma manufacturers have been cutting the costs of their products.

Overall, Samsung shipped more TVs worldwide and culled more revenue from TVs in the third quarter than its competitors, according to DisplaySearch.

Samsung had fallen behind South Korean rival LG in terms of unit shipments in the second quarter. LG accounted for 11.4 percent of shipments in the second quarter, while Samsung accounted for 10.6 percent. In the third quarter, Samsung rose to 11.2 percent, while LG declined to 9.9 percent.

Samsung also accounted for 15.2 percent of TV revenue worldwide, widening the gap with Sony, which sits at 10.3 percent.

But, the average store price for a TV was $548, up 25 percent in the period, thanks to interest in flat-panel and high-definition TVs.

Analysts, in fact, note that people are spending more on average on flat-panel TVs than they did in the past, though prices of individual sets are going down. The conclusion: consumers are gravitating toward bigger and bigger sets.

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