LCD squeezes out CRT

By VARINDIA - 2010-02-17

LCD squeezes out CRT

The display industry is shifting rapidly away from CRT to LCD technologies. The replacement of CRT by LCD is near completion.

The latest set of data from IDC shows that LCD screens are all set to replace CRTs and take over the latter's market share completely by the end of this calendar year. According to the report, the overall monitor market in India for 2008 was 6.6 million units. The contribution of LCD monitors was more than 70 per cent (4.8 million units), thus registering a growth of 29 per cent.

When the LCD monitor was launched shortly at the turn of the millennium, its ubiquity was in doubt due to its high price. However, by the middle of the decade, LCD was rapidly replacing CRT. In 2007, it seemed obvious that the display space was in the final stages of an evolutionary shift, with LCD squeezing the CRT out of display landscape.

Liquid crystal displays are based on a newer technology and have gained enormous popularity in the past few years, replacing CRT across segments owing to its obvious advantages. One of the biggest advantages LCD monitors offer is that they are compact and lightweight.

"We believe CRT will still coexist for a while, in terms of absolute numbers, with LCD in India but in a declining manner. The main target customers of CRT basically lie in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. However, as the monitor market matures in India and people realize the benefits of LCD technology over CRT, LCD sales will replace CRT sales," says Gautam Ghosh, Country Manager ViewSonic India.

"Techno-savvy and ergonomic product lovers are switching to LCD computer screens to reduce eyestrain and improve their overall environment. CRT screens are becoming less popular because their colour imaging is not as superior as an LCD screen. LCD screens in the workplace are beneficial to workers because they produce a clearer image and help avoid eyestrain. The reduced glare on the computer screen's monitor helps to deter any eye injuries or headaches. They are also much thinner and lighter when compared to a CRT screen so it can be easily mounted," says S. Rajendran, Chief Marketing Officer, Acer India. In India, Acer occupies the second position in the LCD monitors market with a 13.7-per cent market share which translates into over 1.5 lakh units in terms of volume. At present, the company is averaging close to 60k units on standalone TFT monitors on a monthly basis, apart from the large volumes which go as bundled offering.

"LCDs are also becoming increasingly popular, because it requires less power per display area. Also, they allow for better posture while working on the computer, because the screen cannot be clearly viewed from different side angles, the screen helps to force the user to align their body with the front panel of the screen," adds S. Rajendran.

"Most of the major players in the market have exited the CRT market. In fact, most desktop computer systems sold now by default come with LCD monitors. The factors going against CRTs include the size and weight of the tubes. An equivalent sized LCD monitor is upward of 80% smaller in size and weight compared to a CRT tube. The larger the screen, the bigger the size difference. The other major drawback deals with power consumption. The energy needed for the electron beam means that the monitors consume and generate a lot more heat than the LCD monitors," informs S. Rajendran.

Acer constantly runs programmes in association with its partner base to provide upgradation from CRT.

"CRT monitors will become obsolete because of advancement in technology. Since customers understand the advantages an LCD has over CRT, along with the good looks and not so high pricing, the market had to shift to LCD Monitors only," says Saurabh Grover, DGM - Sales, AOC India. AOC is currently the No. 3 brand in the channel market with 19.5-per cent market share, as per IDC's QII '09 report. The company's volume is averaging above 60k per month.

LCD monitor market is evolving at a very fast pace in terms of technology. The customer today is very well versed with technical features and demands the latest in his purchase. The latest evolvement is of "Green Monitors". The focus is on low-power consumption, lesser radiation and restriction of hazardous materials. WLED also contributes to the same with its share in reducing power consumption of a monitor. In terms of features, Full HD and Ultra HD Resolution, High DCR'S OF 100,000:1 and excessive built-in features are becoming a must to have. Super glossy monitor finish in luxury outlooks with touch keys and sleek shapes are in. There is also a very high increase in bigger size screens. 20" and above form about 25 per cent of the monitor market now.

Monitor-cum-TV is the latest trend. AOC is also planning to launch its LCD Monitor-TV very soon.

As far as servicing of existing CRT goes, good companies never back off from serving their customers. "AOC is still selling a very small number of CRT monitors (less than 5% of the total sales volume). These are being sold with 3 years onsite warranty and we will continue to support our commitment to our customers in the future too. We plan to finish our CRT stock by September-end 2009," says Saurabh Grover.

Recently, LED monitors are more frequently showing up in the market, indicating the increasing application of LED in the monitor field. Vendors are majorly promoting LED monitors these days. However, early products which were flawed in colour rendering and uniformity and sold at high prices were not very popular with customers. "But LED technology has kept advancing, which brings the advantages of LED backlit monitors more noticeable. Thus, more and more manufacturers are developing LED backlit monitors and launching new products," says S. Rajendran.

AOC launched the world's slimmest and lightest WLED monitor sometime in March 2009. It is called Verfino and is extremely popular in our distribution network. AOC 22" WLED Monitor Verfino also comes with an inbuilt webcam, mike and speakers. It has a super fast 2ms response time and comes with HDMI input connection too. The demand is continuously picking up for this monitor. The company plans to launch 18.5" and 20" wide monitors with WLED very soon.

Acer monitors feature Acer SensorTouch technology for discrete, touch-sensitive controls that enhance the monitor's streamlined look and make settings adjustment easy. Acer SensorTouch is an advanced touch-sensing solution that takes advantage of capacitive technology. It offers a superior touch-sensing solution for selection / single-point sensor control with excellent touch-sensitivity performance. It also consumes lower power compared with other touch-sensing solutions.

One is assured of a truly cinematic experience with Acer’s high-definition digital media. Digital connectivity via an HDMI port and a DVI-D port (HDCP support) ensures hassle-free connectivity to pure-digital devices. A rapid response time of up to 2ms G/G enables Acer LCDs to deliver high-quality moving pictures for 3D games and videos.

The key growth vertical for the TFT business in India for Acer would be the SOHO/SMB segment which is fast realizing the benefits of computerization and which is also a big market for replacements. The Government vertical is another key growth segment with many large e-governance projects being launched and this segment has been the traditional strength of the company since its inception in India. "While we do not have any specific offering targeted at a particular vertical, the entire portfolio of offerings is available to be positioned in each of these verticals," says S. Rajendran.

Acer currently has 10 models of TFT LCD monitors, spread across P, H, X and V series. Its monitors range from 15.4" right up to 23" widescreens. Its TFT business has offerings across size, specs, price point for every need in the market. Thus, the company caters to every single segment that exists.

Currently, AOC's 15.6" and 18.5" monitors bag 75 per cent of its channel sales. "Our focus is to further consolidate our market share in these two sizes. Simultaneously, we are also focussing to increase our volume and share in 20" and 22" + above segment, which lends more visibility," says Saurabh Grover.

According to Gautam, apart from government, enterprise and education segments are the primary spenders in this category. "We see a huge rising potential in the Gaming and Home Entertainment segment. The adoption of newer technology, we feel, is primarily coming from the boom in these upcoming segments," says Gautam.

Channel Engagements
Acer's go-to-market strategy is dominated by our focus across the spectrum of the distribution network. The company works with key national distributors and also with TFT exclusive distributors like Savex to ensure that it has reached across the country. This is followed up by consistent engagement with key TFT-focussed large partners across regions, jointly working with them to address the T3 segment, doing joint events and programmes with the T3 to generate consumer demand. "We also leverage our vast brand retail network of over 275 stores in 140 cities to reach out to the consumer segment more directly. Apart from these, we work with specialized partners focussed on the commercial segment," says S. Rajendran.

Acer has helped accelerate the movement from CRTs to LCDs, thereby reaching the customer with attendant benefits such as lower-power consumption, lesser real estate space and encourage green computing which has also contributed to our phenomenal growth in India. "Apart from this, we have been aggressively promoting the Acer TFT brand via a mix of various marketing vehicles like TVCs, POS and a spate of localized ground level activities focussed on generating end customer demand," says S. Rajendran.

"Currently, AOC's marketing strategy is 'PUSH BASED' focussed more on our distribution channel. Visibility at the point of purchase, sales schemes, BTL activities, print and outdoor coverage are our main areas of marketing promotion. We are also using in-shop displays and demo areas to further enhance visibility and display. Mass media print, online and mobile also form an integral part of our marketing plan," says Saurabh Grover.

AOC has a very close-knit team of about 10 AOC Platinum partners (direct billing from AOC). Below them, the company has the AOC 100 Gold Club, with top 100 AOC partners in India. This is followed by AOC Silver partners.

AOC regularly has sales schemes and special promotions planned for its partners. holiday trips, volume-based discounts, gift items are all different parts of the same. In the last two months, AOC has organized 7 different trips to Bangkok for different regions and two trips to China and Hong Kong. "AOC's marketing efforts are primarily focussed on the distribution channel and in sync with the same, our partners incentive strategy is always a priority for us," says Saurabh Grover.

Unlike other companies in this space, Acer is a 100% indirect company worldwide, and has continuously strived to bring the latest technology to its consumers at the best possible price points. With a partner network of over 2,500 channel partners and 275 retail partners in over 140 cities and towns and a service network of over 275 Acer Service Providers, Acer aims to reach out to its customers across many target groups in the most effective manner. "We believe they play a very mission-critical role in reaching our products to the end-users and Acer's experience in our go-to-market strategy with channel partners has been extremely satisfying and fulfilling. Acer ensures that our channel partners are well rewarded, by running regular schemes. Also, we offer the best product models to our channel partners which enable good margins for the latter," says S. Rajendran.

Every month, Acer runs an incentive scheme on business output for its partners. "Apart from these, from time to time we run additional incentive programmes which incentivize partners in kind (Gold pendants/ Diamonds etc) on committed business volumes," says S. Rajendran.

ViewSonic's selling mantra to channel is "Quick Turnaround of Stocks and Eliminate Inter Dealer Price War". "At ViewSonic, we have a 3-tier channel strategy, i.e. from distributors to ViewSonic Authorized Master Dealers and eventually to Resellers and System Integrators. Through our distributors, ViewSonic promotes its latest in technology product lines across India. However, currently we are in the process of revamping our channel infrastructure to make it more region specific. Also, we are recruiting some new distributors and partners across India for our forthcoming launches and introduction of newer product lines," says Gautam.

Viewsonic has introduced FINCH CLUB in India to offer an interactive platform to our partners to share their experience and to address to their concerns. Through this club, the company keeps introducing exciting schemes on a regular basis which helps its partners motivate and benefit more by purchasing more. "Not only that, every quarter we organize multi-city dealer training meets for our Club members and their sales force to help them understand the market trend, challenges and finalize with them the go-to- market strategy. Currently, we have more than 250 listed partners who are our Golden and Silver FINCH Club members. Over and above these, we have more than 1,000 FINCH members."

Retail
Acer's retail channel comprising of IT specialty channel (Acer malls and Points) and LFR is expected to be the key sales engine in 2009. We expect approximately 30 per cent of the company's turnover from this vertical this year. Acer is effectively partnering with large format retailers like Croma, Home Solos, Next, Reliance Retail, Hypercity, Jumbo Electronics, Xcite and Metro to drive PC adoption. Our entire product range is available via LFRs.

"We are investing a lot in in-shop displays, display windows and designing of AOC areas within retail outlets. This will increase our visibility and also enhance the frequency of monitor display. We have an AOC showroom at Bangalore and plan to open one at Ludhaina soon," Saurabh Grover.

ViewSonic works on a comprehensive marketing strategy focussing on consolidation of business across various cities. The company would be regionalizing its marketing plans to address the issues and concerns of each zone. "Apart from this, we would be launching newer product lines and expanding the channel network by recruiting more partners from the Tier-II and Tier-III cities," says Gautam.

This year, ViewSonic plans to expand its footprint in the retail segment with the launch of newer product lines. The company will share the details in the coming months.

Finally ....

Today, however, it seems that the future of display technology is more than that of a simple evolutionary advance from one technology to another. This is due to the fact that several display technologies are emerging on the display ecosystem. In all probability, all these technologies are likely to coexist with one another. And, it is also true that none of them will enjoy the kind of monopoly that CRT had in its heydays.


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