It's a well-known fact that new technology ushers in a barrage of deals on the previous-generation tech it replaces. We've seen that occur with processors, smartphones, laptops, and even tablets. But this year the stakes are higher as the TV industry braces itself for one of the biggest debuts we've seen since the introduction of high definition.
At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, both LG and Samsung showcased their next-generation OLED HDTVs. As CNET succinctly puts it, OLED has the potential to be the best TV technology ever. And as the waiting game begins for the first big-screen OLED HDTV to hit the U.S. market (CNET estimates LG's 55" 55EM9600 will debut first in Q3), we can't help but wonder how OLED will affect prices of other TVs, specifically LED-based LCDs.
So to get a glimpse into the type of deals we might see on LED-backlit LCDs after OLED debuts, we decided to see how LED itself impacted pricing when it hit the market. Thus, we turned back the clock to the summer of 2009. In the first three months that we debuted deals on 55" LED-backlit LCDs, their counterparts — 55" CCFL-based LCDs — dropped a whopping $701. Sure, you could argue that 55" CCFL LCDs were already declining in price (which they were), but their steepest price drops in 2009 didn't come on the traditional Black Friday, but rather, they came in August, the month after we posted our first 55" LED TV deal; plus, that sharp of a drop over so short a period of time is abnormal. CCFL sets slowly kept eroding in price as we listed more and more deals on LED TVs.
So how did these above-average price drops come about? They were mainly the result of nervous retailers. In the short term, retailers had to take a hit in profits to move inventory that was now considered "old." However, in the long term, it was manufacturers who lost the most, because retailers often have ratchets that allow them to return unsold products. Either way, both scenarios were wins for the consumer, because to move those "old" CCFL LCDs, prices had to go down.
Which brings us back to 2012. As deal hunters, we're excited to see Samsung and LG debut their respective OLED TVs because that means we're likely to see a strong wave of discounts on LED LCD TVs. (Specifically on 55" sets, since it appears LG and Samsung are focusing their OLED TVs in that size category.) And with LG's OLED TV due out in September, that could mean better-than-average holiday TV deals this Christmas.