The Value of Time

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There’s been a flurry of comments about LCD “gluts” and price reductions here and there.

From my perspective (and no doubt most of yours), it matters not if a display goes from costing 100% too much to costing 80% too much.

I have nothing against LCD monitors, or LCD TVs. Eventually, I want both.

What I do have against LCD screens is their cost. Well, not really, I don’t have anything against the price of a Rolls Royce, either. What I do have in both cases is paying for either.

The Rolls Royce people would probably think I was completely unreasonable if I named my price for their product. I’d think I was completely unreasonable, too.

The Rolls people have somehow managed to do without my patronage for almost a century, and I strongly suspect they can keep that up. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for Rolls to knuckle under to me, at least not unless I become seriously suicidal, and I hope even then I can come up with a better excuse than that.

This state of affairs angers me not.

That’s the way I look at LCDs. I still use CRTs rather than LCDs because they do a very good job at fairly low cost. These are pretty big advantages to me.

They do have certain disadvantages, though, the principal one being that I don’t like displays that weigh more than me, so I can’t get CRTs quite as big as I might ideally like, whether monitor or TV. Up to now, those disadvantages, for me, personally, have been relatively minor.

The referee in this competition is named Mr. Price. Right now, he’s heavily biased to the CRT team.

Once the LCD team gets their budget down to around the CRT level, I suspect the calls are going to start going the other way.

I think a lot of people are in my boat (and if you’re not, odds are you personally have a good reason others don’t for your preference).

That’s the problem the LCD makers are faced with. They don’t have a glut of LCD monitors in the sense that no one wants them. They have a glut of LCD monitors at the price they want to charge for them.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re evil greedy people unwilling give you $199 LCD monitors. If they can’t make a 17-inch LCD monitor for less than $300, they can hardly sell them for $200. That’s Addams Family economics.

If that’s the cost structure, then they’re going to make a lot fewer LCDs than they had planned, much like Rolls would end up selling a lot fewer cars than they had planned if they made a million Rolls in a year without cutting the price.

Of course, the Japanese and Taiwanese and South Koreans ramping up production are no doubt feverishly figuring out how to cut costs anyway they can, if not with LCDs, than with something else, and as newer, much bigger, more efficient factories already being built come on line, costs will drop quite a bit, if not quite enough. Figure by 2006-2007, we’re looking at half of today’s cost.

If they do, eventually they’ll sell a zillion of them, and CRTs will go the way of crystal radios. If they don’t, they won’t, and LCDs will remain more like a niche, less than a mainstream product.

There’s nothing wrong with being Rolls. It’s just that Rolls can’t expect Ford volume at Rolls prices/), and would-be Rolls customers can’t expect Ford prices given Rolls costs.



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