LCD Panel Shipments: Units, A Useless Measure

Most LCD market research post monthly, quarterly, annual shipment information in units. For instance, DisplaySearch just announced that large-size TFT LCD panel shipments increased 9% M/M and 36% Y/Y to 58.8 million units in May 2010. Large-size generally means LCD panels with a 10-inch diagonal or longer. Does the unit shipment results in May really say anything at all? I propose that the unit shipment figure is just about meaningless, unless the size mixture is included. For instance, April large-size LCD panel shipments could have had a larger portion of really big panels compared to May. So is May’s results better or worse? I don’t think anyone can say without more details. Here’s what David Hsieh, VP of DisplaySearch, had to say about May’s unit shipment results:

The May results indicate that although the TFT-LCD industry is going through a panel price and inventory correction period this quarter, panel shipment momentum is not slowing down and has bounced back to reach record monthly highs after a monthly decline in April.

Is that really what the May unit shipment results indicate? I’m not so sure. Here’s a more accurate way: measure area shipments. At least we’ll know LCD manufacturers are actually selling more when measured in area instead of units. LG Display (LGD) normally announces area shipments in its quarterly results. Just because LCD unit shipments increase doesn’t mean the LCD industry is headed in the right direction. I look forward to LCD panel shipment information in terms of area, which would give a more accurate indication as to where the LCD industry is headed. Mere unit shipments don’t say much at all.