Chinese consumers fastest to adopt ultra-high definition TV

  • Tech News
  • Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014

The country already accounts for over 80% of UHDTV shipments and smaller TV sets, with screens below 60in, are the ones in greatest demand. 

According to the latest NPD DisplaySearch quarterly global TV shipment and forecast report, 1.6 million ultra-high definition (also known as 4K TV) televisions were shipped over 2013. And while demand from other countries picked up considerably over the last quarter of last year, China accounts for 84% of all shipments. 

"4K TV remains on an aggressive growth trajectory, but the expectations of the supply chain are extremely high, relative to observed market performance and current retail pricing levels so far," said Paul Gagnon, director of global TV research for NPD DisplaySearch. 

"With panel price premiums falling rapidly, and a growing chorus of non-Chinese brands pushing 4K, it is possible for retail set prices to fall quickly to improve volume, but at the expense of profits." 

After China, the next biggest market is North America, which accounted for just 5% of shipments, followed by Western Europe (4%) and Japan (3%). The Asia Pacific region is in fifth place (2%) with Latin America accounting for 1% of shipments. 

The most popular brand by shipments is Chinese company Skyworth and its focus on smaller TV sets may explain why demand within China is greatest for TV sets with 39in, 50in, and 55in screens. 

However, beyond Asia the trend is the reverse with the 55in and 60in models offered by Sony, LG and Samsung proving the most popular. 

"4K is a very important strategy for most brands, but particularly those targeting the high-end TV market," said Gagnon. 

"In fact, while Chinese brand Skyworth held the top overall 4K TV shipment share worldwide in 2013, Sony maintained the top shipment share of 4K TVs outside of China, which is a position they have held since the second quarter of 2013, but one which will be challenged significantly this year by low-cost competitors from China and elsewhere." 

Ultra-high definition televisions offer a pixel density and level of detail far greater than that of a high-definition television set. The TVs are sometimes referred to as 4K sets because they have four times as many pixels (i.e., 4000) horizontally than a HD TV. 

Earlier this month, research firm Strategy Analytics published a survey of 6,000 European and US consumers that found households are becoming increasingly ready to take the plunge and invest in a new TV that supports the technology. 

Nearly two-thirds of Americans and over half of European respondents said that they were prepared to splash out on a new UHDTV before the end of next year, especially if the price represented good value. 

As well as price, the research underlines that another potential issue is the technology's name. 

When it was first unveiled to the public more than two years ago, it was called 4K. But, as time has moved on, so has the way companies and commentators refer to TVs that support the technology. As well as 4K TV, we now have UHD and Ultra HD as competing terms and Strategy Analytics found that Ultra HD is currently the name with the most resonance and recognition among its sample group of consumers. 

"The outlook for Ultra HD is positive, assuming that it meets consumers' performance and value expectations," said David Mercer, Principal Analyst and the report's author. 

"In any case our research confirms that many people are still interested in improving their big screen television experience." — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2014 


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