The Pricing Issue
During the Philips launch of their 5th generation of LCD monitors in Kunming, China, we met up with Meech Aspden, Regional Marketing Director of Multi Media Displays in the regions of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and she expounded on the different marketing strategies she adopts, and on the present difficulties of LCD manufacturing.
HWZ : Will the prices of LCD monitors ever come down to the level of CRT monitors?
The pricing of LCD panels has been so volatile lately, but the prices of 15-inch and 17-inch LCD screens are starting to narrow down and we reckon it'll get to a difference of US$30 between the two. When that happens it's going to do a number of things. Firstly, it's going to speed up the transition from 15-inch to 17-inch sizes, but it's also going to make a lot of the traditional CRT buyers, look to buying LCDs instead of buying high-end large-screen CRTs. That being said, it's still anyone's guess as to when 15-inch and 17-inch LCD prices are going to come down to their CRT equivalent prices.
HWZ : Why did prices for LCD monitors go up momentarily towards the end of last year?
The LCD shortages started in Q4 2003 and it didn't subside till just recently this year, particularly with the 15-inch screens. The 17-inch LCD shortages have been freed up considerably now, but we expect the 15-inch shortage to continue for a while more. LG.Philips has a new plant opening in Q4 this year. It will be our sixth facility. One mother-glass in the fifth-generation fabrication plant can cut 4 pieces of 30-inch panels, while one substrate in the new sixth plant will be able to cut 8 pieces of 30-inch panels. So you automatically see that productivity will increase, and prices will come down accordingly. That is what we envisage. Right now we're even in discussion about a seventh generation plant, where we will be able to cut bigger substrates in less time.
HWZ : Why are the B and P series of Philips LCD monitors more expensive than the S series?
For the B and P series, our inspectors sit under these very bright lights and manually sort the panels one by one. That is why the prices of our B product line models are higher than the S line. Firstly, it's guaranteed that there will be zero bright dot defects in a B model and secondly, because of the amount of labor and work that go into ensuring this guarantee. We have done a lot of research and we have discovered that dead pixel failure usually occurs at the birth of the product, rather than failing over time - like whether you're born with a mole or not. That's not to say that it doesn't fail over time at all, but most of the problems come up right at the beginning, where the panels are actually made. The issue of a bright dot defect formation typically occurs during the process where the two polarized panels are pressed together with the liquid crystal solution in between.
"For the B and P series, our inspectors sit under these very bright lights and manually sort the panels one by one."