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Plasma manufacturers can't keep up with LCD

Average price declines will send revenue down for good after a peak next year, according to a report by iSuppli.

Though revenue from plasma display panels (PDPs) shipments is on an upswing right now, that's not going to last, according to iSuppli.

It's been predicted for some time now that liquid crystal display (LCD) panels would eat away at the plasma industry, and now market research indicates that plasma panels--including the kind used in TVs--will reach their revenue-generating peak in the next two years. Plasma makers made $7.7 billion last year, and are on track to make $8.6 billion this year. In 2008, they'll top out at $10.2 billion, according to iSuppli.

It's all downhill after that, with heavy price competition from the LCD industry to blame. Though this has been predicted for a while now, PDPs have actually enjoyed a slight boost in growth recently because of the competition among all panel makers, more efficient manufacturing processes and lower costs for materials. All these factors have lowered prices and increased sales lately, but it's not going to last, and revenue will begin to fall, iSuppli says.

For the first quarter of 2007, the world's largest plasma panel maker, Matsushita, retained its lead with 31.5 percent of the market, followed by LG with 24.7 percent and Samsung SDI with a 22.9 percent share.

In what's likely related news, Matsushita, which sells plasmas TVs under the Panasonic brand in the U.S., announced today that it would broaden its LCD lineup to include 37-inch TVs.