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Ultra HD TVs to reach 10mn homes by 2016, outpace OLED

With the Consumer Electronics Show now in full swing in Las Vegas, all thoughts in the TV technology industry are on the Next Big Thing – and that looks like it may turn out to be Ultra High Definition (Ultra-HD), which offers four times the resolution of standard HDTVs.

According to a new report from US firm Strategy Analytics, Ultra-HD sets will be installed in nearly 10mn homes worldwide by the end of 2016, and this figure will shoot up to in excess of 130mn by 2020. While Ultra-HD sets being demoed at CES by the likes of Samsung and Sony are priced out of reach of most consumers, this should change as manufacturers expand production volumes.

The report predicts that global annual sales of UHD TVs will first break through the one million barrier in 2015 and by 2020 global annual sales will exceed 50mn units. The Ultra-HD market is likely to be dominated by jumbo-sized displays of 60-100 inches or more: 80 inch and over displays will account for 26 percent of global sales in 2020 and 60 to 79 inch displays will account for 61 percent.

“Current pricing makes UHD TVs more or less unaffordable but TV manufacturers are expected to make significant production investments in the medium term, and we anticipate UHD TV prices will fall to the sub-$2000 range within the next five years,” said Jia Wu, Director of the Connected Home Devices (CHD) service. “Once retail prices hit this sweet spot, sales in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, China and other markets will quickly take off.”

A separate report from the NPD Group predicts that shipments of LCD sets compatible with the enhanced picture resolution – also known as 4K – will exceed those of OLED TV shipments through 2015, due to a combination of the slow time-to-market of OLED TV makers, and increased promotion of 4K LCD TVs by several brands.

In addition, many Chinese TV brands are currently in the process of launching 4K LCD TVs in the domestic China market. OLED TVs are still expected to launch in 2013, but volumes are expected to be low and prices expected to be very high. 4Kx2K resolution is not exclusive to LCD TV and 4K OLED TVs are also expected to be introduced at some point in premium TV segments.

“The global TV market—and North America in particular—are experiencing either slow or negative growth in 2012, and brands are eager to demonstrate new technologies that might create a spike in demand,” noted Paul Gagnon, Director for Global TV Research at NPD DisplaySearch.

“OLED TV was prominently featured during the previous two CES shows as the next-generation TV display technology, but the lack of market launch so far has caused several set makers to start emphasizing 4K×2K resolution TVs for premium market segments.”

Worldwide television shipments fell 6% in 2012, according to NPD Group, as consumers worldwide grapple with tough economic conditions, but are predicted to stabilise this year. There were an estimated 205mn LCD TVs shipped last year, down slightly from 2010, while shipments of plasma TVs fell 24% to 13mn.

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