Hitachi to halt production of PC monitor CRTs

Hitachi has decided to halt production of cathode ray tubes (CRTs) for computer monitors by the end of this year and concentrate exclusively on liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, the company said Thursday.

Sluggishness in the global PC market has reduced demand for PC monitors, sending prices falling. At the same time, demand for LCD monitors has been increasing as they have come into the price range of average consumers. With future demand expected to shift to LCD monitors, "there are no prospects for growth of the monitor CRT market," Hitachi said in a statement.

Hitachi's decision to throw in the towel on CRT monitor production came after the company tried a number of measures to boost profitability in its CRT manufacturing operations. These included transferring production overseas to plants in Singapore and Malaysia, and introducing new products such as short-length, flat-face and large-screen CRTs.

The announcement does not mean that Hitachi will stop selling conventional monitors with its personal computers, only that those monitors will be made by other companies and not by Hitachi itself.

The market for LCD monitors is expected to increase sharply from 2001, according to market research company Stanford Resources Inc. The company predicted earlier this year that flat panel monitors will account for 9.4 percent of the worldwide desktop monitor market this, year rising to 38.9 percent by 2007. Worldwide unit shipments are expected grow at a compound annual rate of 40 percent from 2001 to 2007, to reach 91.2 million units, valued at US$24.4 billion, by 2007, it said.

Hitachi was one of the first Japanese PC makers to promote flat panel monitors. In April 1997 the company began selling an all-in-one unit in which the personal computer was mounted behind a 13.3 inch TFT (thin-film transistor) display. Despite their hefty price tag, which began at 340,000 yen ($2,760) and climbed upwards, the machines quickly caught on because they occupied one third the space of a conventional desktop PC -- an important selling point in a country where many people live in single rooms or small apartments.

The company said it is now reviewing options for selling its CRT manufacturing business.

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