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LED backlights to grab TV share in 2009

12 Nov 2008

The potential for super-slim designs will be the key market driver behind LED backlighting of large LCD TVs, predicts the Korean analyst firm Displaybank.

Significant penetration of LEDs in LCD television backlights will begin next year, suggest analysts at the Korean market research company Displaybank. Already becoming popular in smaller LCD units such as those used for notebook PCs such as Apple's MacBook Air, LEDs have not yet been able to displace traditional light sources in TVs, largely on grounds of cost.

But this will start to change next year, as pioneers Samsung and Sony are joined by Sharp, Philips, Hitachi and LG, all of whom are launching TVs incorporating the solid-state technology.

"Shipment of LCD TVs with LED backlights will begin to be active in 2009, and [the technology] is likely to account for 6.4% of the total LCD TV market (or 10.9 million units) by 2010," predicted the Displaybank report.

The bullish prediction goes on to forecast that more than 25 million such units will ship in 2011, doubling to around 52 million units the following year - equivalent to a quarter of all LCD TV shipments.

Surprisingly, Displaybank researcher Allen Ji reckons that the driving force behind the displacement of cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) will be pure aesthetics – specifically the extra-slim designs that LEDs enable.

In the past, superior colour rendering, particularly in the red end of the visible spectrum, had been expected to push LED backlighting. However, CCFL producers countered that threat with improved lamps. More recently, it has been the energy-saving potential of LEDs that has been highlighted as the key advantage.

Energy efficiency is hugely important in portable applications, and partly explains why LEDs have successfully entered the notebook PC industry, where battery life is a crucial factor.

But because they are almost always plugged into an electric socket, this argument does not hold up for TVs, and the cost premium that comes with the need for several hundred individual LED chips in a typical TV backlight has so far resulted in CCFLs maintaining their dominance.

According to Displaybank's wider analysis of the large-size LCD backlight market, which includes notebook and PC displays as well as TVs, some 18 million units were expected to ship this year.

That would represent less than 4% of the available market, but the figure is projected to grow to 182 million units by 2012.

ABTechSPECTROGON ABCeNing Optics Co LtdLASEROPTIK GmbHBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationAlluxaUniverse Kogaku America Inc.
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