The market seems to be warming up to the idea of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors. During this year, the sale of LCD monitors has far exceeded expected targets with sales in the range of 30,000 units against 7,000 units last year. At this rate, vendors even expect sales to touch one-lakh units by next year.
Most vendors tentatively launched LCD monitors from the middle of last year positioning the product as a niche item. Vendors did not expect much result with most of the energy focussed on educating the market. Being highly priced, vendors knew they had to bide their time before Indian customers took to the LCD monitor.
But an unexpected boon opened the door for LCD vendors in the form of the rising ITES industry. With increasing capacity being added each month and with call centers competing with the best destinations in the world, the infrastructure also had to be world class. Clients of call centers, who routinely scout shop floors before signing contracts, had to be reassured that their work was being executed under the best executive environment. Another reason for increased LCD buying by call centers is because VCs who fund these enterprises want the working environment to match international standards.
Amit Gupta, Product Manager, Rashi Peripherals, distributors of Sony LCD monitors, said that LCDs are particularly useful in a call center scenario because they are soft on the eyes. Call center agents who spend hours before the screen replying to mails and chatting tend to get exhausted because Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors are harsh on the eyes. A secondary benefit, which these centers tend to derive from LCD purchases is that being slim, LCDs help corporates save on office space.
Rashi has executed a couple of orders for call canters and is upbeat about the prospects in that sector. What's more exciting about this segment is that call centers tend to buy in lots. So executing even one tender means the vendor has managed to do some bulk sales.
Seconding this, Pankaj Sharma, Head (IT and Channel Sales), Sharp India, said, "Call center is a growing opportunity for LCD vendors and we have started focusing our energies on this. Unfortunately we were late in focusing on this segment and haven't closed any deals yet." He, however, stated that the company is in fact interacting with a number of potential clients in this sector and expects some results soon.
LCD monitor sales are also being boosted by customer-savvy organizations like banks, financial institutions, hospitality sector, healthcare and telecom companies. "Service industry which needs to have a customer interface, is buying LCD monitors for aesthetic reason," pointed out R Manikandan, Deputy GM (Sales and Marketing) - IT Products, LG Electronics India.
Traditionally, vendors have positioned LCD monitor as a premium product for the CEO's office and the front office.
Therefore expectedly sales in the retail segment, which comprises more than 50 percent of the total PC sales has not picked up. This is expected to change as more and more tender-driven sales take place and the price point declines rapidly. Most vendors expect a dramatic increase in the sale of LCD monitors from next year onwards with prices declining at the rate of five percent every month. LCD monitors are still terribly expensive for the mass market with price points hovering at Rs 25,000 and above. Vendors expect substantial sales to pick up when the price touches Rs 20,000. However, it would become a mass market product only when it touches the Rs 10,000 price point.
Despite the high price tag, LCD monitors have already become mainstream in countries like Japan and Korea with most new purchases being LCD monitors. Clearly LCD vendors' marketing pitch "We are selling space" has not found many takers in India as yet. "While Asian countries like Japan and Korea have an acute space constraint, it is not so bad in India," said
The forecast however is clear--the future lies in LCDs. By 2005, a study by a Taiwan Research firm predicted that nearly half of the 141 million monitor sales would be flat LCD screens as compared to less then 15 percent of the 106 million monitors shipped globally last year.
Balaka Baruah Aggarwal