The rapid growth of the worldwide market for signage and professional displays is attracting a new group of heavyweight competitors to the business: Information Technology (IT)-oriented firms, including PC king Hewlett-Packard Co. and microprocessor giant Intel Corp., according to iSuppli Corp.
Worldwide shipments of LCD and plasma screens for use in digital signage and professional displays is forecast to grow a hefty 25 percent in 2010, reaching 1.99 million units, up from 1.6 million in 2009, said Sanju Khatri, principal analyst for signage and public information displays at iSuppli.
"Because of renewed economic vigor after the recession, the industry can expect stellar growth during the following years as well, with increases of more than 40 percent projected annually from 2011 to 2013," Khatri said. By 2013, shipments of LCD and plasma displays for signage and professional displays will total 5.99 million units.
Of the roughly two million signage and professional displays that will ship this year, fully three-quarters-or 1.52 million units-will be LCD displays, with the remaining 468,752 being plasma screens.
The attached figure presents iSuppli's worldwide forecast for flat-panel signage and professional displays. The forecast excludes the hotel television segment, which some do not consider to be part of the market.
Sub-markets to post strong growth
Within the industry, solid growth is projected in 2010 in a number of sub-markets, specifically the indoor venues and retail signage segments.
For the indoor venues market, which includes installations in entertainment facilities, hospitality centers, healthcare facilities, auditoriums and indoor arenas, LCD and plasma signage displays will climb more than 70 percent, reaching 720,000 units in 2010, up from 419,000 units in 2009.
For the retail signage market, which includes displays in the retail environment, grocery stores, shopping malls and fast-food restaurants, LCD and plasma signage displays will rise to 848,000 units in 2010, up 18 percent from 717,000 in 2009.
IT companies display interest
Of major interest in the industry is the increasing recognition among key IT companies of the role that digital signage can play in advertising and communications with end-users, Khatri said.
For instance, Hewlett-Packard has introduced its own line of display products, including 42- and 47-inch widescreen LCD displays, catering to the signage and professional display market. Likewise, Cisco Systems Inc. is offering media players, content management software and digital displays as components of an integrated digital media suite that could also operate as a standalone digital signage application.
A third company of note, Intel, recently demonstrated how technology is able to enhance the retail experience. Intel says its Intelligent Digital Signage Proof of Concept delivers the performance required for demanding video applications, such as running anonymous video analytics applications or displaying multiple video streams and rich graphics. The platform is based on Intel's energy-efficient Intel Core I7 processor running the Windows Embedded Standard 2011 operating system.