Info-tech

Rise of flat-screen televisions lowers the curtain on the bulky box

R. Ravikumar Chennai | Updated on November 28, 2014

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They are bulky, antediluvian, and once the pride of living rooms. But like most other casualties of the digital revolution, the CRT (cathode ray tube) televisions are in their last lap.

Shopkeepers are now taking them off the shelves even in remote villages, and Onida — once a market leader and household name with its ‘neighbour’s envy, owners pride’ ad — will stop making them from January.

“The CRT market is over. It’s history,” said BA Kodandarama Setty, Chairman of consumer durables retailer Viveks. “Even our showrooms in upcountry markets do not stock them. Rural consumers too have started buying LED TVs.”

Gulu Mirchandani, Chairman and Managing Director of Mirc Electronics, the owner of the Onida brand, told BusinessLine that it did not make any sense to manufacture CRTs any more. The rapidly shrinking market and disappearing links in the distribution chain are “making it unviable to have a play there (the CRT segment).”

The last bastion, Videocon, is also expected to yield to the LED onslaught. The major draw for the panel TV buyer is the drop in prices. LED TV, which uses light emitting diodes as its lighting source, has superior picture quality, thin panels and is energy efficient.

In 2013-14, the overall TV market size stood at 11 million units. Of this, panel TVs accounted for 8.8 million, and CRTs, 2.2 million, according to statistics from Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association. Videocon commands a 55 per cent share of the CRT market, with the rest shared by regional players such as Salora, Weston and Crown. Just four years ago, the CRT’s market share was over 75 per cent. M Rajesh Kanna, proprietor of Abi & Co, retailer and distributor of TVs in southern districts, said now there is hardly any demand for CRTs.

Korean majors LG and Samsung and Japanese brands such as Sony and Panasonic have introduced smaller flat TVs; the 22-inch model is the hot-seller. Prices too have dropped.

Even home-grown brands, including Onida and Videocon, have introduced models that sell for as low as ₹9,500. The entry price point is expected to come further down in the next few months.

CM Singh, Chief Operating Officer of Videocon, said the company plans to launch 16-inch LED televisions at below ₹8,000.

This will bring down the price differential between the CRT and flat panel models to less than ₹2,000.

However, Singh said his company would make CRTs for at least another year. “We have our own facilities to manufacture picture tubes and other components. At least, it is in our interest to keep the market alive for some more time.”

Also, with the Centre scrapping Customs duty on LED TV panels below 19 inches, the market will swing further to flat panel TVs, said a top official of a leading brand.

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Published on November 28, 2014
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