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LCD panel supply issues could mean higher prices

Panel prices have risen, but monitor and system prices haven't. iSuppli report suggests prices have nowhere to go but up.

The price of LCD panels for notebooks and desktop monitors has been on the rise since April, though the increase has not yet been passed on to consumers. But that could change very soon, according to a new report from iSuppli.

Though LCD television prices have stabilized, monitor prices are far more volatile right now. As an example, the average price for a 15-inch notebook display has inched up from $90 to $108 between April and September, according to iSuppli. But during that time, monitor prices did not go up even as panels did, severely eating into the margins of monitor manufacturers.

"We're now reaching a point where profit margin for the monitor supply is really being impacted," said Sweta Dash, director of LCD and projection research at iSuppli. "So already some monitor suppliers are starting to increase their prices $10 to $20." Considering the already tight supply (from a backlog of product in the spring), prices have almost nowhere to go but up.

"Considering all these facts, we don't think monitor prices can continue to go down," said Dash.

But, never fear: the biggest shopping day of the year should still be chock-full of aggressive pricing.

"Black Friday prices may still be aggressive and exciting," said Dash. "Because they make those decisions way earlier, in (the beginning of) Q2 when many system suppliers set panel prices. Since those are contracts, they can't be changed."