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Flat-panel monitors pick up the pace

Lower pricing on sleek, flat-panels is spurring demand to new levels. Revenue generated by sales of the monitors is expected to surpass standard displays this year.

Revenue generated by sales of flat-panel displays is expected to outpace CRT monitors this year, according to a report released Wednesday.

The slender monitors, which cost more than their box-like brethren CRT (cathode ray tube) displays, are expected to generate $17.2 billion in sales this year, compared with $14.3 billion for CRT monitors, said the report by research firm DisplaySearch.

By mid-2004, shipments of flat-panel monitors are expected to surpass CRT monitors, eventually outselling them by a ratio of more than 5-to-1 in 2006, according to DisplaySearch. Flat-panel display shipments are anticipated to reach 65.9 million in 2004, compared with 42.8 million for CRT monitors.

The eventual displacement of CRT monitors from the No. 1 spot has been under way for the past several years, as an increasing number of consumers and corporations have snapped up the sleek, thin flat-panel displays as prices have fallen over time.

"Everyone has been expecting it, but the question has always been when. And now, the funding to create enough (manufacturing) capacity is in place to allow this to happen in 2004," said Ross Young, president of DisplaySearch. "The end of the CRT is soon approaching given the capacity that is being put in place and pricing for panels are reaching unprecedented levels."

Prices for flat-panel monitors are expected to fall 13 percent a year through 2006, according to DisplaySearch. And for 19-inch monitors alone, the price drop is expected to be more dramatic at 30 percent annually.

And the price gap between flat-panel and CRT monitors is narrowing. For example, a 15-inch flat-panel display is expected to sell for an average $214 in 2006, while a similar sized CRT monitor is expected to go for $117, Young said.

"It's still a $100 difference, but it's only a $100 difference," he said.

Prices of the panels are falling as the industry increases its manufacturing capacity and achieves lower costs to produce the panels, Young said. Manufacturing capacity is expected to rise 400 percent from 2001 to 2006, according to the research firm.

CRT plants, meanwhile, are expected to shut down manufacturing lines, Young said.

"There's already been a lot of CRT plant closures," Young said. "We have also heard a lot of companies are getting out of the 19-inch CRT and focusing on the 21-inch. They're trying to focus on the high end of the market and migrating to larger sizes."