The arrival on the market of fine pixel pitch LED displays has sparked a big jump in shipments globally, but the competitive landscape is so crowded that total revenues have only jumped slightly, according to a new marketplace report by the research firm IHS.
Total unit shipments for all pixel-pitch categories in the direct-view LED video market were up 15.6 percent year over year in 2015. However, total revenue for 2015 only improved by 1.2 percent in 2015 because of a “dramatic price decline across all pixel-pitch categories.”
Unit shipments, predicts IHS, will see compounded annual growth of 16 percent through 2020.
“Application trends for the LED video industry differ slightly from other technologies, with little or no installations in corporate and education signage, which tend to rely instead on front projectors and LCD displays,” says Sanju Khatri, director of digital signage and professional displays for IHS Technology. “The top applications for LED video are retail, outdoor sports and public spaces. There is a growing trend in indoor applications, particularly in public spaces, retail, control room and corporate signage.”
If you follow this business, you know both outdoor and indoor LED have been around for a while, but the market has really taken off lately because of those fine pixel pitch LED set-ups that are getting crisp enough to rival LCD.
Sales of sub 2mm LEDs were up a whopping 366 percent year on year, and the 2mm to 5mm category was up 129 percent. That kind of growth is not sustainable, but IHS says it still expects 84.8 percent rise in shipments expected for sub 2mm and 77.1 percent for 2-5mm.
IHS expects the rate of advancement towards finer pixel pitch to slow significantly in the short term, due to the size limitations of current LED packaging. At the moment the narrowest pixel-pitch LED video display is Leyard’s 0.7 mm product, launched in September 2015. The price difference between sub-1 mm and 1.2 mm-to-1.9 mm pixel-pitch displays is almost two times greater; hence, 1 mm pixel pitch LED video displays are rarely installed in a video wall configuration. Unilumin, Aoto, Leyard and other major brands are positioning sub-1 mm pixel-pitch LED video displays as a large format display for retail stores, control rooms, conference rooms, airports and other indoor applications.
In the longer-term, the industry is migrating to a new type of packaging called chip on board (COB) in lieu of the traditional surface mount device (SMD), specifically for fine pixel-pitch LED video displays. “The use of COB allows for a much higher packing density of LEDs, enabling compact arrays of LEDs that are more heat efficient, cost effective, longer lasting and reliable,” Khatri says. “The LED video display market can look forward to this transition as the production of COB LEDs ramps up.”