UK Tech Week: Sanyo cautious in TFT display market

Bad news for flat panel monitor fans: Sanyo has decided not to launch its 15.1in LMU-TFI50D1 monitor or its MLC-A1610E 16in LCD model -- both on show at UK Technology Week -- because "margins are too thin".

The consumer electronics giant reports strong growth in its flat panel business but says entry level models -- that's anything below 18in -- will not be launched in the UK. "This is still a young market," says John Boyle, general manager for Sanyo UK, "although it's a healthy marketplace it is still, mainly, the corporate sector that is looking at this type of screen. So we plan to launch 18in models by the middle of January at the workstation markets."

Sanyo's caution is a sensible strategy according to John Goodson, analyst at PC Data who says companies are having to drop screen prices dramatically to kick-start the business. "The trend for flat panel monitors is undoubtedly a healthy one with a huge potential opportunity. There will definitely be a market but I think it's going to be tight to begin with."

Goodson reckons an 'early adopter' market is about a year away, with consumer products beginning to arrive towards the end of 2000. Sanyo Product manager Tony Minami is more bullish: "I think it is quite possible you will see companies like Compaq or say Dell, launching PCs with flat screen options by the end of 1999."