MAGAZINE: Changing times ahead for large-area LED display manufacturers

Small manufacturers of large-area LED displays should form a consortium and develop a Common Module Approach, says Peter Pihos, partner of EDG Research & Consulting.

Ten years ago there were over 350 companies worldwide that manufactured large-area displays. These companies produced a variety of different technologies for specific applications. The industry demographics showed most were small, with 85% having sales less than $15 million annually. Many existed by finding a niche for their technology, such as splitf lap technology for use in railway stations, or electromechanical flip-disc for the road transportation market. They also benefited from a certain degree of national protectionism.

Now that LED technology has replaced other technologies, with 95% of the manufacturers selling LED technology, it is becoming more difficult to differentiate one product from the next. As a result, competing on price is becoming more prevalent. And the pricing spread between what is manufactured in China and elsewhere is substantial.

As an example, the price for a 20mm pitch, full-color system is $5200 per square meter, compared with $1800 for a similar system manufactured in China. The gap that separates manufacturers, both in performance and quality, is narrowing and in time it will be increasing more difficult to justify paying for the more expensive product.

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This article was published in the May/June 2009 issue of LEDs Magazine.

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