What recession? With the digital sign market set to grow up to 44% this year and news reports of the largest (building size) sign ever, just unveiled in Dubai, some analysts in this business are asking that question in earnest.
Senior Analyst and Editor
It’s true according to DisplaySearch (Austin, TX; www.displaysearch.com) the unit volume for LCD and plasma displays used for public display applications rose 13% Y/Y worldwide, according to the Q4′08 Quarterly FPD Public Display Shipment and Forecast Report. Growth of 44% is forecast for 2009, which was just revised down to account for some recessionary tendencies in the market. Using a mix of commercial-grade products along with consumer panels will help reduce the costs of digital signage deployments, driving high unit growth rates the report said.
Part of the reason for these recession proof kind of numbers, is the long cycle time between making the deal and actual instillation. "Public display installations are long-term infrastructure projects, and the implementation decisions were made long ago," affirms Chris Connery, VP at DisplaySearch. He said that projects already in the hopper are apt to "…continue to move forward with implementation in the near term, but at a marginally slower pace." Translation: there’s a reduction in the rate of growth but we are growing (and at a 44% clip) nonetheless.
"In particular, deployments of commercial flat panel products across the globe in mass-transit and quick service restaurant markets continue on course for 2009 and 2010," Connery added. But while Connery sees more mundane deployments driving the large display Out of Home (OOH) market the poster child for the LED segment may just be a 100 meter tall LED screen (which is actually a high-rise building façade), standing out in the Majan district of Dubailand.
The world’s largest digital LED sign instantly elevated the technology and perhaps industry to the rank of "world-famous." Podium as the building is called, is visible at a distance of 1.5 kilometers, and uses a curved screen to serve as a medium for advertising, messaging and art. Let’s just hope no one puts a high rise building right next door, blocking the display.
But in the world of flat panels, DisplaySearch reports, not surprisingly, that LCD panels are outselling PDP panels in this category as in most other markets. Both LCD and plasma are set to see Y/Y growth in deployments in commercial spaces according to DisplaySearch. "However, production investments in LCD technology and its cost competitiveness against plasma especially in key 32- to 42-inch sizes will allow LCD to continue to outpace plasma-based solutions." The company said.
As in other markets, for larger size panels, the battle continues, and plasma still has a cost advantage. But there may be an advantage for LCD here too in larger display applications as very thin bezel LCD panels are tiled to build video walls like the forty-panel one built by Samsung, and shown at Infocomm this past Summer.
So let’s hear it for long cycle install projects that keep even a recessionary market going forward at +40% growth. Who knows, that light you see at the end of the tunnel may just be from an OOH display guiding the way–Oh, with a paid advertisement of course.
Note: Look for the expended version of this article in the February issue of Large Display Report.