Despite of the fact that content in 4K (3840*2160) ultra-high-definition resolution is extremely scarce and there are no TV channels that offer programs in extreme resolutions, shipments of UHD TV-sets are growing. What is noteworthy is that they are growing very rapidly in China.
4K LCD TV shipments reached 1.6 million units in 2013, with nearly one million units alone shipped in Q4 2013. According to the latest NPD DisplaySearch, growth was significantly driven by China, although shipments from other countries more than doubled in Q4, as well. Chinese brands comprised 84% of global 4K TV shipments in 2013 and 80% of 4K TV shipments in Q4.
“4K TV remains on an aggressive growth trajectory, but the expectations of the supply chain are extremely high, relative to observed market performance and current retail pricing levels so far. With panel price premiums falling rapidly, and a growing chorus of non-Chinese brands pushing 4K, it is possible for retail set prices to fall quickly to improve volume, but at the expense of profits,” said Paul Gagnon, director of global TV research for NPD DisplaySearch.
The Chinese market and brands continue to be a rapidly growing part of unit shipments of LCD TVs overall and the driving force for 4K TVs in particular. The majority of 4K TV volume in China was primarily concentrated in the following sizes: 39 inches, 50 inches, and 55 inches. Outside of China, 4K TV sizes were heavily focused on the 55-inch and 65-inch models sold by Sony, Samsung, and other global brands.
“4K is a very important strategy for most brands, but particularly those targeting the high-end TV market. In fact, while Chinese brand Skyworth held the top overall 4K TV shipment share worldwide in 2013, Sony maintained the top shipment share of 4K TVs outside of China, which is a position they have held since the second quarter of 2013, but one which will be challenged significantly this year by low-cost competitors from China and elsewhere,” noted Mr. Gagnon.
The trend toward 4K is an important one for the TV industry, as global shipments of TVs fell 3% in 2013 and even high-growth categories like LCD TV only rose 2% after a 1% decline in 2012. According to the analyst, for TV manufacturers, the focus on profitable and growing market segments like 4K, larger screen sizes, and smart TVs is critical in the absence of global market growth.