Well, the IKEA announcement earlier this week that they’re integrating HDTVs into their home furnishing line (they are literally selling a piece of furniture with an already-builtin TV and other AV gear) will spark copycats by everyone from Target to Pottery Barn. And, although these TVs are made, for the most part, in China (as opposed to Japan or Korea), they’re pretty dang good.
With the recent news from the three of the top four TV manufacturers of massive losses in the HDTV biz, this spells trouble ahead. The TV as a commodity will not only affect the HomeAV market, but it will have a trickle-up effect on digital signage margins as well asProAV systems where flat-screens are used regularly.
Let’s face it, you don’t need commercial-grade displays in every system you do. So, consumer stuff is what we choose to use many times, and that stuff is about to become cheaper — a lot cheaper. In fact, the average price of a 40″ LCD will drop to the $300 range by year’s end and the 50″ will barely eclipse $450. So, for that price, you can use five different consumer displays over the life of a typical install rather than one commercial and still have money left in your pocket.
OK, I can hear the LCD manufacturers saying, “What the hell are you saying this for, Gary?” Right, Sharp and Sony? LG and Samsung? These are the Big Four that have the most to lose — they just make TVs. No differentiation, no special feature set and no unique value proposition.
NEC, Panasonic and a few others are well positioned as they have stuff like DS (digital signage) distribution, OPS slots that they also build cards for, commercial 24/7/365 capable sets and a distribution that doesn’t include anyone who can breathe.
Oh, and did I mention Apple? We all know they’re entering the TV business. Has anyone been able to beat Apple at their own game? Don’t count out their differentiation.
What will that be? Control! They will finally put together a set and a system that will NOT require an over complicated control system to operate or even a remote, for that matter. And, it will magically connect to everything else in your house that matters. Just watch.
So, thanks IKEA, for expediting the process.
And, Sony, you are in even bigger trouble than even you already think you are…