The following article is excerpted from The Industry Standard.
Two TV manufacturers, representing both ends of the price spectrum, have dropped out of the gas plasma TV business.
This week, California-based Vizio confirmed that it will concentrate exclusively on LCDs. Pioneer, which made only high-priced plasma sets, announced Thursday that it was getting out of the TV business altogether.
A BusinessWeek article reports that Pioneer blamed the economic downturn. The fourth-largest manufacturer of plasma TVs is ceasing in-house development and plans to close down its TV business entirely by March of next year.
According to the New York Times, Vizio cited the limitations of an important sales channel—discount stores such as Costco. Plasma sets don’t look as good under big-box stores’ bright lights, which impacted sales. As a result, the company will “devote all of its available shelf space to the technology that moves off the shelves fastest.”
Interestingly, many consumers are still buying plasma sets. According to a DisplaySearch report released on Thursday, plasma sales are actually going up while LCD sales are dropping. “Shipments of LCD TVs, the most popular TV technology, fell on a Y/Y (year-over-year) basis for the first time ever, from 8.9M (million) units in Q4’07 to 8.7M in Q4’08. In contrast, shipments of plasma TVs, which are typically cheaper than similarly-sized LCD TVs, increased by 28 percent Q/Q (quater-over-quarter) and 10 percent Y/Y,” a DisplaySearch press release stated.
Regardless of the numbers, when both a high-end manufacturer (Pioneer) and a budget TV brand (Vizio) pull the plug, the future of plasma isn’t looking too bright.