Parity and Profit
Even though flat panel TV is going mainstream and its prices are plunging, LG's Bob Perry says 2006 is a great time to be in the custom A/V business.
By Janet Pinkerton
The downward plunge in flat panel pricing and the spreading splat of flat panel distribution is already sending shockwaves through the custom A/V market—retailers and manufacturers alike.
At LG Electronics USA, Vice President of Consumer Electronics, Sales and Channel Marketing Bob Perry seems to be somewhat gleefully looking forward to the wild ride. LG remains committed to the custom channel, says Perry, who pledges that his company's business strategies will allow C-tailers to continue to compete amid the changes.
"The custom retail channel for the last four years or so has been leading the flat panel revolution," Perry says. However, he contends, "flat panel in 2006 is transitioning from being only a very, very high-end and cool product to being a cool and high-end product, but also being a fairly mainstream television product. The transformation of flat panel from being an extremely high-end custom business to being a mainstream TV business will affect the lives of custom retailers dramatically.
"Last year we started seeing prices nudging where normal, average consumers were considering this as the technology for their television purchase," Perry says. "As we started to see good-quality, fairly large panels sell for $2,500, the consumer adoption curve has really ramped up."
This year, he expects that ramp-up to continue, with HDTV plasma displays from top-tier manufacturers starting to hit $3,000 in the 50-inch size. "60-inch is going to decline fairly dramatically this year," Perry adds. "Forty-two inches is very, very mainstream already, and we'll still see some price declines as we go through the year."
LG claims the production catbird seat in the flat panel category. "We are the world's largest producer of flat panel displays—LCD and PDP," says Perry. "As [such], we have a different approach to the marketplace that we believe allows the custom retailer to flourish even as [the flat panel category] mainstreams," he says.