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Growing Demand for Flat Panel Televisions

The landscape of living rooms across the globe is changing as consumers join the flat panel revolution. IDC believes consumer interest in flat panel televisions combined with falling prices paint a bright picture for TV manufacturers, vendors, and resellers.

According to the latest IDC survey, the future of TV-land is flat in terms of selection as online respondents worldwide favor Plasma and LCD. While less than a quarter of consumers surveyed globally report currently owning a flat screen TV, IDC says that number tripled in terms of the number of respondents who plan to purchase a flat panel TV by the end of this year.

High quality video is the main force driving the adoption of the new and emerging digital TVs. Over half of IDC survey respondents consider high definition (HD) compatibility as an extremely important factor influencing their decision to replace their current TV.

Surprisingly, however, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents say they do not currently subscribe to HD programming. IDC explains that survey respondents are probably waiting to subscribe to HD programming until after purchasing a larger and higher quality digital TV, as a majority of respondents currently rely on the old-school CRT tube as their main TV set.

While HD compatibility ranks high for influencing flat panel buying decisions, IDC says television pricing ranks even higher for survey respondents. In fact, TV price concerns towered over all others on the list including display technology, screen size, and even brand.

"Cost is critical in my decision," writes one survey respondent. "I know what I want, but am waiting until the price suits me." More than 60 percent of respondents (all who fell into a high income demographic) say they expect to pay less than $2,000 on their new TV. While price points have dropped over the years, they remain somewhat high for a large part of the TV-buying public.

"Judging by our survey results and respondent comments, we believe the future holds extremely bright prospects for television manufacturers," says Eric Haruki, research director of IDC's TV Markets and Technologies service. "Performance concerns are for the most part non-existent, people are happy with the design of these new flat panels, TV prices could of course be cheaper, but current and future vendor messaging efforts are where companies could stumble, generating a number of unnecessary speed bumps along the way to ever greater sales."

Haruki advises TV vendors and their resellers and their marketing departments to improve the quality of the messages they send to consumers about new feature sets. Survey responses indicate that many respondents are overwhelmed by the lingo of new TV technology and are looking for some easy and coherent way to understand selection criteria for their own situation.

As one respondent comments, "The whole process of selecting a flat screen HDTV is very confusing and requires a great deal of research. The manufacturer and retailer who simplifies the process is likely to win."

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