A Look Back on 2014

First, I want to set out our plans for the holiday season. There will be a break next week (26th December) and the next full issue of the newsletter will be on 2nd January, so this is the last issue of the year. We always promise “a minimum of 48 issues per year” and this year we produced 50 main issues. We also produced 11 event reports that were big enough to need separate supplements. We created around 6000 stories that got very close to a million words. We also published a lot of stories on Display Central.

We saw a big change in the middle of the year when our publisher took over the Display Central website. That has had a big impact on the newsletter and our work as we now have a team of experienced industry professionals in the US to add to our team in Europe. The mechanics of trying to integrate two completely separate workflows and systems has been a challenge and we’re behind where we wanted to be in combining the online presence, although the newsletter side of the business has settled down well.

One of the intriguing facts of the acquisition was how little overlap there was between the two operations in customer base. As well as the Insight Media deal, we signed a deal with a trade association for its members to get access to the Large Display Monitor newsletter at about the same time. The overall result of this is that we now have a much increased “reach” with around 200 subscribing companies around the world and covering every type of company in the display industry from research institutes to resellers.

It has been a tumultuous year in the world. The situation in Russia is a real concern for the prosperity of Europe (it does occur to me that Western leaders must be grateful that the markets have put huge pressure on Putin because of the oil price, while worrying that the low price of oil might cause investors to stop funding the fracking that has been one of the reasons for the drop). Supply and demand balance, is, of course, the key driver of the oil price and has been a big factor in the display industry this year.

With relative balance in supply and demand, it has been a good year for the panel industry, with profits at levels last seen in 2009.

The touch industry has seen problems where there is too much supply and this week we report rumours of Wintek pulling out of the touch business. As I’ve quoted before in this column, “When the business tide goes out, some companies find themselves stranded on the beach”.

Of course, over the years, I’ve seen that LCD makers and set makers are like the man and the woman on one of those Black Forest cuckoo clocks. Either the man is out or the woman is out, but never both at the same time. 2014 was a year that the panel makers were out in the sun, while the TV and smartphone makers, broadly, had a challenging year and were back in the shade. Monitors were not as bad as feared, although TPV, the kings of the monitor business, found that its good monitor result was offset by difficulties with the Philips TV brand. Projectors also were expected to be bad, but have been surprisingly good.
Thanks for all your support over the last year!