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Third-quarter HDTV sales pace slows, plasmas show new signs of life

Research firm DisplaySearch has released its third-quarter report on the state of the TV market, and it shows that the crummy economy is finally starting to erode sales growth for HDTVs. Manufacturers shipped 6 percent more sets to retailers than in the second quarter, while year-to-year growth is 12 percent.
Written by Sean Portnoy, Contributor on

Research firm DisplaySearch has released its third-quarter report on the state of the TV market, and it shows that the crummy economy is finally starting to erode sales growth for HDTVs. Manufacturers shipped 6 percent more sets to retailers than in the second quarter, while year-to-year growth is 12 percent. Considering that declines are popping up everywhere on the retail front, that's not a bad showing, but sales growth could grind to a halt in the fourth quarter.

Another indicator of the belt tightening consumers are doing these days: Sales growth in LCDs with screen sizes less than 40 inches was 7 percent over last quarter, but bigger, pricier LCD sets gained only 3 percentage points. Price appears to be a big factor in plasma's semi-comeback. Almost written off for dead, plasma sets have finally plummeted below $1,000 for many models, which has lead to a 20 percent year-to-year growth. And amazingly, CRTs are still hanging around, a trend that DisplaySearch suggests is due to people looking for the cheapest digital set they can find before analog TV disappears next year.

Among the top five sales leaders, the top three increased their market share: Samsung moved from 18.8 percent of the market to 19.4 percent, while Sony went from 10.3 percent to 12.3 percent, and Sharp jumped from 6.8 percent to 9 percent. Rounding out the top five, Vizio and LG declined slightly from last quarter. HDTVs still remain one of the most sought-after holiday purchases, but the fourth-quarter numbers will show how much—or how little—of a bump the holidays will give TV sales.

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