B2B Flat Panel Market Sees Record Growth, Despite, Well, Everything: Futuresource

December 17, 2021 by Dave Haynes

Despite everything that has been going on, and continues to transpire, the B2B flat panel market has just finished what the research firm Futuresource Consulting says has been the largest quarter ever, with global sales of 1.74 million units. That was up 3.1% year on year for the quarter.

Matthew Rubin, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource, says the jump is “something worth celebrating. … What makes this success even sweeter is the assortment of hurdles that have stood in the way. COVID-19 continues to cast its shadow, exploiting weaknesses in the market. Ongoing component shortages are making themselves felt, while escalating shipping costs are punching holes in profits. Yet the market marches on.”

The UK research firm, in a round-up of market conditions, suggests business is down for front projection and notably for the interactive flat panel market, which Futuresource says has been hit particularly hard because of supply chain issues, “creating a backlog that Futuresource expects will last through much of 2022.”

As one might expect, smaller vendors with less spending power have been hit much harder than the big manufacturers, which have “escaped relatively unscathed. This has resulted in a spate of product redesigns to suit available componentry, as well as a shifting emphasis towards promoting premium lines, which carry a larger profit margin, at the expense of entry-level devices.”

Despite the supply issues in interactive, Futuresource suggests: “Moving forward, self-service kiosks will present a growing opportunity for flat panels, born from the changing consumer attitudes created by COVID-19. While the public has become comfortable using kiosks in quick-service restaurant environments, the use cases created by social distancing, and even legal requirements for reopening, are pushing kiosk technology to the fore. Watch out for kiosk proliferation across a wide range of verticals.”

The home cinema market was the main reason front projection was down, which seems weird given how much time we need to spend at home these days. “The dedicated home cinema product segment, which declined nearly 17% in Q3, was the primary reason that the worldwide front projection market as a whole took a hit in volumes. However, ultra mobile, mainstream B2B, and B2B short throw also experienced some contraction in volumes, with installation and large venue the only product segment to post growth. This was largely due to prioritisation of higher margin products while the market continues to face chip shortage and stock challenges.”

“In much the same way as kiosks have risen to the occasion for the flat panel market, the installation and large venue projection segment has written its own pandemic success story for the projection industry,” says Victoria Tselykh, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “Cultural institutions across the world have been subject to the longest closures since the Second World War, reliant on government subsidies and donations to stay afloat. Now museums are adopting technology that offers Instagrammable exhibits, immersive and experiential events to compel customers to return.”

“The appetite to invest in this new trend has seen over 40 immersive Van Gogh exhibits open in the US alone. The experiences take shape as a series of high brightness projectors work in tandem to produce 360-degree digital animations of famous artwork that audiences can walk within. The combination of physical pieces and projected content give displays a distinctive appeal, with visitors able to interact with artwork in ways that have never before been possible.”

Futuresource is predicting the flat panel market will achieve a year-on-year increase of 22.9% in total for 2021. “That’s the largest annual volume ever seen. Volume growth will continue across the forecast period, with a CAGR of 4.1% expected out to 2025. It’s a relatively strong performance considering the maturity of the technology, helped along by significant growth across the interactive space, as well as a positive outlook for digital signage.”


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