TV Industry Forecasts and Retrospective

I know that recycling is a science.  I learned about paper making from paper engineers, and if you don't know how paper is made you won't be a good recycler.  We made a big mistake in 1992 promoting recycled content in writing paper when we could have first maximized it in toilet paper.  That was just a money mistake, it was wasteful to cut down trees to make toilet paper (making fibers shorter) when the main challenge to recycled writing paper was that the fibers were too short to make quality writing paper....  One part passion and two parts study has been a good recipe for this environmentalist.

Since I took the "special assignment" of CRT Consultant for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental  Protection in 1998 (a queer public management option where you accept a "demotion" and get 3 days per week and a $11K salary increase), I've been learning about display devices.  Still a very "visual" technology, like writing paper.  But very high tech and "science-y", as Colbert might say.

I'm really good at these now.  I read industry magazines, some translated from Chinese or Japanese, and I follow what is going on.  This keeps me from chasing a "today's price" on, say, used LCDs, or allows me to sell my stocks of display devices short when the market is turning.   And the market has been turning the wrong direction on display device pricing for the past 3 years.

Last year was good for cell phones and pads, and therefore for small "touchscreen" display makers.  But it's been a real tough time for big TV screens.  CRT manufacturing may actually outlive Plasma Display screens, and few Americans would have predicted how long they stayed valuable.  But there's an end in sight.
The large drop in volume is due to decreased TV shipments into Japan, down from 19.8 million units in 2011 to just 7.5 million units in 2012, following the end of government subsidies for eco-friendly consumer electronics. Not counting Japan, global TV shipments are set to remain broadly the same in 2012, with growth in developing TV markets like Latin America and the Middle East-Africa offset by the small decline in North America and Europe.
Meanwhile, shipments this year of legacy cathode ray tube televisions (CRT TVs) and plasma display panel televisions (PDP TVs) will continue to fall precipitously. CRT TV volumes will slide from 25.5 million in 2011 to 15.8 million this year, while PDP TV shipments will retreat to 8.9 million in 2012, down from 13.9 million last year.
Growth will return to the television market in 2014. Once this stabilization occurs, the year 2015 will see global shipments return to growth, and sales will rise in countries such as Brazil, India and Indonesia.
The one prediction I've made about the sale potential for used CRTs has been this:   The last new CRT will be made before the last used CRT is resold.   Now, because of Communist Party Chinese (aka Military owned factories) investment in CRTs, they have been produced quite stubbornly and at a probable loss.  But the adage about the "last used sale" beating the last new sale is still true.

The cathode ray tube was originally a test tube made to create a vacuum so that different gases and phosphor powders could be put inside to experiment with the effects of running electricity through the tube.   Phosphor isn't poison, but it's a powder that chemically binds with just about anything... if you want the properties of mercury to be in a powder form, add phosphorus, and you get a mercury lamp.  The CRT tube accidentally led to the creation of X-Ray machines (see short article in Christian Science Monitor).

The CRTs have been around since the 1800s, and vacuum tubes with phosphor powders have stood up remarkably well to the diodes business, LCD, OLED, etc.  But basically you can make the same size display thinner, and then sell more per load, and that's going to be the end of commercial commodity heavy CRT tubes.   They last longer and are less theft-prone, but those are things that are of value to poor people, and the electronics industry prefers to sell stuff to rich people and that's where the investment will lead.

This may seem like a digression from my previous post about the language of Basel Action Network. But here's my darn point.   I have been interested in electronics since Jim Puckett was at Greenpeace following Basel Convention rules on dumping of toxic drums on African shores.  I had no more technical or geek skills or programming skills than Jim did.  I'm still a weak weak player in technology and I failed a lot of math and science tests when I was young.  I'm not a natural in sciences.

But I care about my friends in Africa, South America, and China, and I care about rain forests and coral reefs.  Unlike Basel Action Network, I cared enough to learn things that didn't come natural to me, and to "learn by doing" as my late Grandma Lauradean and Grandpa Clarence Fisher told me.   The "jargon" above made me money, but I needed the money to do something I cared about, and that's sustainability.  Here we are, 12 years since I met Jim Puckett, and he's still saying the same exact things, the same exact Halloween and Salem Witch Trial words he was saying when he first mis-cast Guiyu's river as polluted by e-waste.  Guiyu's river was polluted by textile mills, the same source of pollution as the other major river disasters in Bangladesh, India, and Brazil.   And BAN has been "closing one eye" to new pieces of information instead of finding their weaknesses and strengthening them.

Legitimate, unbiased research into display device manufacture, human use of display devices, commercialization, secondary markets, commodities, and science are not distractions.   That's what the church tried to say to Galileo when he created the first tubes.  He was "distracting people" from the Bible, with his cylinders with concave lenses at each end, describing the stars.

The catholic church jailed Galileo, just as Basel Action Network has caused Joseph Benson of Nigeria to be jailed and PT Imtech of Indonesia to be fined.  They are the worst excuse for environmental management on the planet.  We have demanded that they let go of the E-Steward program and turn it over to professionals.  They have people quitting.  And the last language about languishing children in cesspools of juju and e-waste tech demagoguery are going to be pounded back into sand and remelted into a lesson for the environmental community.

The UNEP Report on the shipment of goods to Africa was huge.  The information sources, like Isuppli and Digitimes, which report on the market trends for new electronic sales are also huge.  The math adds up.  What UNEP found in Africa obeys the same economic rules as Wall Street investors look at when deciding which display device technology to invest in over in Shenzhen.  

Be true to thine own self, to thine own self be true.   Don't tell lies.  Lies are evil, and don't be evil.

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