2012 Flat-panel TV shipments down for the first time, ever

Flat-panel HDTV’s were a revelation of sorts to the consumer technology market. The shift to HD mades TVs smaller, better, and more affordable leading to high consumer demand. Now that the transition from SD is all-but complete, the marketplace is saturated and consumer demand is drying up.

Flat-panel TV shipments in 2012Research firm IHS iSuppli reports that flat-panel TV shipments have dropped in 2012 for the first time in history. Shipments peaked at 39.1 million units in 2011, and 2012 will see that number drop to 37.1 million units. Current projection look for the trend to continue for the next 3 years.

TV manufacturers have attempted to incentivize new purchases with pushes for 3D and smart TV features, but these features have not set the marketplace on fire. The space will likely remain stagnant until a truly desirable new, industry-wide feature is introduced, and that may be far off with the next resolution jump to 4K likely a decade off.

Company reactions to reduced interest in the sector already in motion. Sony has already announced its divestiture in the space, and Sharp recently entered into an agreement with Chinese manufacturing giant Foxconn’s parent company Hon Hai. Speculation is swirling that the Hon Hai/Sharp deal may be connected to a potential forthcoming Apple TV set.

Source: IHS | Via: The Verge (1, 2)

This American Life retracts episode about Apple/Foxconn

In January, This American Life released a story titled “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” that was predicated on the supposed first-hand accounts of Mike Daisey, a monologist known for telling stories about modern topics like 9/11 and Walmart. The enormously popular episode of the radio show hosted by Ira Glass sat Daisey down to talk about a trip to China that revealed horrible working conditions and hiring practice by Apple’s primary manufacturer of goods like the iPhone and iPad, Foxconn.

While the story caused quite a stir and increased the level of awareness about the Chinese labor force, This American Life has since retracted the story and released a new episode of the show called “Retraction”. The new episode starts off with a somber apology by the generally affable Ira Glass, followed by interviews with Daisey’s interpreter Cathy Lee, Daisey himself, and the New York Times reporter who wrote an expose about Apple/Foxconn shortly after the original episode released.

Whether or not you listened to “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”, this particular episode of This American Life is absolutely worth checking out. It provides some critical context to an enthusiast backlash against Apple that may not be fully deserved yet still highlights the realities of the cost of technological consumerism.

Source: This American Life (Podcast, Transcript)