Sales of LCD monitors in Europe are predicted to climb 30 per cent, analysts claim – though a strong market for notebooks is likely to affect future demand.

Meko DisplayCast expects this market segment to continue its year-on-year growth. Overall the European desktop monitor is expected to show 3.1 per cent growth in volume in 2004 in contrast to 2003.

Market activity favouring notebooks has an impact, the analysts warn: "The major regions in the West of Europe are not expected to drive this growth as demand for notebooks will reduce demand for desktops and thus for monitors," they warn. They expect sales in central and Eastern Europe to account for the growth.

Meko research director Pete Gamby said: "We can expect the desktop monitor market to level off in 2004 and 2005."

"Notebook PCs are proving popular with consumers as well as business users and the PC makers are strongly promoting desktop replacement portable computers," he said.

The analyst also observed that LCD panel manufacturing capacity is improving, "we expect LCD panel supply in the monitor sector to ease somewhat this year," he said.

With manufacturers trying to push the market towards larger, more profitable panels, Gamby doesn't expect prices to drop "dramatically", and added, "supply of 15-inch panels will remain constrained."

He expects 17-inch LCD monitors to show the strongest growth over the projected period, "provided prices don't continue to rise." The market for 18-inch LCD monitors will make way for 19-inch ones, but in a significant observation, Gamby predicts: "The data shows that sales of 20-inch LCD screens should grow more than 50 per cent from 2003 to 2004 in unit terms."

Looking forward, the CRT monitor market is expected to decline by "nearly a third" in each of the next two years. 18 million CRT monitors shipped in 2003, while the analyst expects 2005 shipments to reach 9.2 million.

Meko DisplayCast added a trenchant observation: "As the market for flat-panel desktop displays has begun to mature, there is no longer a consistent quarter-on-quarter growth in the LCD monitor market. Instead, predictable seasonal trends are beginning to emerge in many of the countries in Europe. For example, some of the Nordic countries are showing a downturn in LCD shipments in the third quarter each year."

Summing up, Gamby said: "In the past, the high end sector was served by 21-inch CRT monitors and while large-size LCDs were still relatively expensive, this has remained the case. However, we are already seeing some downward price movement for 20-inch and larger screens – Dell and HP have been particularly aggressive in driving sales in this part of the market".