Big monitor demand grows as overall display market shrinks

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Monitor shipments will continue to sink in 2013. But when consumers do buy a monitor, they’ll turn to larger screens—31-inches or more in size.

Weak monitor demand during the last quarter of 2012 has prompted market research firm IDC to revise its shipment estimates for that period, as well as those for this year.

However, IDC, whose parent company also owns PCWorld, identified two bright spots in a market being hurt by the declining popularity of desktop PCs.

“While the monitor market continues to contract, we do expect a refresh from expiring Windows XP operating system licenses in 2014 and growing demand from developing regions like Middle East and Africa to help increase monitor shipments and soften the decline,” IDC said in its report.

In addition, IDC is starting to see increased interest by monitor shoppers for bigger screens. It’s predicting that shipments for monitors 31 inches and greater in 2013 will increase by 12.2 percent from 2012 and continue to expand in the coming years.

Predictions for the overall market, though, were less sanguine. Fourth quarter shipping estimates were reduced to 36.3 million from 37.9 million units, as were 2013 shipments to 140.1 million from 142.8 million units.

Shipments will continue to decline over the next five years, reaching 122.2 million units shipped in 2017.

The research firm explained that several factors influenced its revised estimates for last year’s final quarter. They included increased use of mobile devices as primary computing devices, continued economic weakness in much of the world and confusion over Windows 8.

Indeed, PC makers who were hoping for a bump up in business from the release of the new edition of Microsoft’s operating system were sadly disappointed when the dust settled from last year’s holiday season.

Desktop monitor sales are also being hurt by the popularity of laptop computers. “The overwhelming trend has been the platform transition of desktop to notebooks,” Hidetoshi Himuro, director of IT & FPD market research at DisplaySearch, said.

“Both have been impacted by the increased demand for tablet PCs,” he added.

Declining demand for monitors will benefit consumers who are shopping for a new display, according to IDC. It predicted that the price-per-inch for monitors will sink more than 10 percent over the next five years, to $7.46 in 2017 from $8.35 in 2012.

That’s not good news for monitor makers trying to maintain their profit margins.

“With consumers perceiving increasing degrees of technical homogeneity across competing offerings and increasingly believing their current monitors to be more than sufficient, monitor vendors must drive compelling innovation into the market to motivate consumers to accelerate upgrade purchases and refreshes,” IDC analyst Linn Huang said in a statement.

“Failure to do so will likely result in the long-term tradeoff of profit margin for volume retention.”

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