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Samsung takes lead over LG Philips in monitors

Samsung Electronics overtakes archrival LG Philips as the world's top maker of high-resolution computer monitors, according to industry data, and Samsung is set to keep its lead.

Samsung Electronics overtook archrival LG Philips in the first quarter as the world's top maker of high-resolution computer monitors, according to industry data, and Samsung is set to keep its lead.

Austin, Texas-based DisplaySearch, which monitors the electronic display market, said recent data showed Samsung, the top maker of notebook computer displays, had overtaken LG Philips in sales of desktop computer monitors, where LG Philips has long been the leader.

Ross Young, president of DisplaySearch, said in an interview that through a combination of heavy investment, speedy manufacturing and smart product bets, Samsung was positioned to remain the world's No. 1 display maker for years to come.

"DisplaySearch expects Samsung to retain this leadership position throughout 2004," Young said. "In terms of their total capacity, we expect Samsung to remain ahead of LG Philips through 2008."

The news comes amid preparations for a $1 billion IPO this year by LG Philips, a joint venture of LG Electronics of South Korea and Philips Electronics of the Netherlands. The venture is based in South Korea, as is Samsung.

The market share battle between the two electronics makers is considered by analysts to be one of the highest stakes competitions of the decade, one in which each side is investing tens of billions of dollars to come out on top.

Growing volumes, heavy investment and technology advances are expected to cut the cost of a 40-inch flat panel screen by two-thirds by 2007, according to Young.

Wide-screen, crystal clear TVs that now retail for $7,500 could fall to less than $1,999 in three years, Young estimated. The wholesale cost of the screens themselves, which now sell for around $2,500 should fall to around $800 in 2007.

The market will grow to $95 billion in sales by 2008 from $60 billion this year, according to industry estimates.

LCDs (liquid crystal displays) are electronic screens composed of millions of semiconductors arrayed behind a thin sheet of glass. Each transistor chip throws off light to create high-resolution images for everything from candy-bar-size mobile phones to 57-inch flat-panel televisions.

Samsung LCD, the display business of Samsung Electronics, said its first-quarter sales of high resolution LCDs totaled $2.4 billion, an industry record for a single quarter, and more than $500 million above the sales of LG Philips, its closest rival.

For much of 2003, LG Philips used DisplaySearch market research data to claim the leading share of displays that are 10 inches and above, or the sizes used in computers and TV screens, which represent the bulk of global sales.

Desktop monitor sales are estimated to reach $20 billion in 2004, and $11 billion of notebook screens are expected to be sold this year worldwide, according to DisplaySearch forecasts. Small displays, under 10 inches, are a $9 billion market, while sales of the biggest screens, measuring 19 inches and up, totaled $5 billion.

This latter market is still dominated by LG Philips and will be at least until 2005, when a Samsung and Sony joint venture will bring the world's largest display glass production plant on line, said Joe Virginia, vice president of Samsung LCD, Americas, in San Jose, Calif.

Story Copyright  © 2004 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.