4K HDTVs to Remain Exotic for More Than Five Years, Claim Market Observers

4K Will Barely Become Mainstream with LCD, Wait for AMOLED

by Anton Shilov
10/04/2012 | 06:03 PM

Despite some high-profile product introductions, consumer demand for televisions with the ultra-high-definition (UHD) 4K resolution [3840*2160] will remain negligible for the foreseeable future, with shipments never accounting for more than 1% of the global liquid crystal display (LCD) TV market during the next five years.


“If you have a television that is 60" or larger and are watching video that has a 3840*2160 resolution, then a 4K television makes sense. However, a very limited amount of content is available at the 4K resolution. Meanwhile, because of high prices and other issues, the market for super-sized, 60" and larger TV-sets is very small, at only about 1.5% of total television shipments in 2012. Furthermore, for most people, the [1920*1080] resolution is good enough. Because of these factors, combined with the massive price tags, the market for 4K TV-sets during the next few years will be limited to very wealthy consumers or to commercial uses,” said Tom Morrod, director, TV systems and technology research for IHS.

Worldwide shipments of 4K LCD-TVs will rise to 2.1 million units in 2017, up from 4000 in 2012, according to an IHS iSuppli. Despite the large increase over the years, 4K will account for only 0.8% of the global LCD-TV shipments by 2017.

The 4K television segment recently has garnered attention with Sony Corp. announcing an 84" 4K LCD-TV priced at $25 000. LG Electronics also launched an 84" LCD-TV for $20 000. Toshiba Corp. is offering a 55" model priced at $10 000. Chinese brands Hisense and Konka have also announced that they will launch 84" 4K TV-sets this year. However, IHS believes that neither consumers nor television brands will have the interest required to make the 4K LCD-TV market successful.

On the other side of the equation, leading television brands may be viewing 4K LCD-TVs merely as a transitional product. Once AMOLED panels are used inside HDTV, 4K resolution will be easier to enable on large-sized screens. Therefore the 4K HDTV will only hit mainstream price-points when AMOLED technology becomes viable and cost-efficient enough for large panels.

“The 4K sets can fill the gap at the high-end of television brands’ product lines until the arrival of the next-generation active-matrix organic light-emitting diodes televisions (AMOLED TVs). Japanese brands are offering 4K product because they need to have a competitive alternative to the AMOLED TVs being sold by their rivals in South Korea, Samsung and LG Electronics. Meanwhile, the South Korean companies are having difficulties producing AMOLED panels, saying they will need two more years to achieve competitive volume and pricing. Therefore, the Korean brands are offering 4K sets as a transitional step until their AMOLED televisions are more widely available,” explained Mr. Morrod.