April 12, 2004 2:38 PM PDT

Bright picture for digital TV sales, study says

The market for digital televisions is coming into focus.

A study research firm In-Stat/MDR released Monday forecast that worldwide shipments of digital TV sets will reach 93 million units in 2008, up from a projected 17 million units this year.

The growth, according to In-Stat, is primarily due to two factors: First, sets with CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors are being replaced with flat panels and microdisplays in direct-view and rear-projection televisions. Second, digital tuners are being integrated alongside analog tuners in large TV set markets such as North America, Europe and Japan.

In addition, mandates from the Federal Communications Commission are spurring the U.S. market in its conversion from analog to digital television. And in Europe, an increasing number of broadcasters are going digital at the same time that the price difference between analog and digital sets there is coming down to a reasonable level, In-Stat said.

But Asia--especially China--is expected to be the largest digital TV market, the study said.

In tune with the new trend, many retail chains, like Wal-Mart Stores, have been increasing floor space allotted for digital televisions. PC makers are getting into the act, too. In October, for instance, Dell released its first LCD (liquid crystal display) television.


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