Not so long ago, the market for 40in to 44in flat-screen displays - a staple of digital-signage installations - has been seen as almost exclusively the domain of the plasma display panel (PDP). The main reason for this was cost and, now that the average price of an LCD TV or business display has fallen to below that of the equivalent PDP, LCD is likely to gain market share rapidly.
Already, Pacific Media Associates says that LCDs of this size gained four percentage points in July, to reach a 46% market share versus plasma in the US. "We've seen this repeatedly in the past," says Rosemary Abowd, vice-president of Pacific Media Associates.
"When the price of LCDs matches or drops below the price of plasmas of the same size, LCDs win." Pacific expects that LCDs will account for the majority of sales in this size category soon, pushing plasma's dominant range up into the larger sizes of 50in and above.
What this means for the integration business is that, in the very near future, there will be no contest between LCD and plasma in many projects. In a host of application sectors, from hotel lobbies and retail stores to airport departure lounges and sports arenas, space is at a premium; installers are lucky if they can find a slice of wall large enough to hang a 30in display from, let alone a 40in one.
Shift the focus to the hotel guestroom or a high-end home cinema, however, and the picture - if you'll forgive the pun - becomes more complex. LCD may be the flavour of the month among mass-market retailers, but size matters more than ever in these markets and, as long as space and budget permit, we can expect plasma to rule the roost here for a good while to come.