Dell Clips Flat-Panel Display Prices

SAN FRANCISCO (05/04/2000) - Reacting to improving flat-panel supplies and pricing, Dell Computer Corp. on Wednesday chopped the cost of its 15- and 17-inch flat-panel desktop displays.

The direct PC seller dropped the price of its 1700FP display from $2229 to $1799, close to a 21 percent decrease; and cut its 15-inch 1501FP display from $1109 to $999, down about 10 percent. You don't have to buy a Dell desktop PC to get the monitors with the new prices; Dell is selling them separately as well.

Dell was able to cut prices because demand for flat-panel displays seems to have hit a plateau. Suppliers are able to make them more widely available and offer small price drops, says Tim Gee, senior product manager for displays at Dell.

A quick Web search shows Dell's pricing on the 15-inch display is comparable or slightly higher to those of similar flat-panel displays from other manufacturers and sellers. The price of its 17-inch display, in particular, appears a reasonable bargain.

Supply, demand, and pricing for flat panels is cyclical, and Gee says he expects pricing to remain good for some time. However, lower prices will drive demand, and it is likely within a year to 18 months that prices will edge upward again, he says.

You may always pay a premium to move from a standard CRT-based display to a flat-panel model, Gee adds. After some major price drops in recent years, CRT display prices have stabilized. Flat-panel products simply cost much more to make, he says.

Despite the additional costs, people are interested in flat panels largely because of the space and energy savings they provide, he says. And according to research firm DisplaySearch, shipments of flat-panel displays grew by 244 percent worldwide in the last quarter of 1999.

That sounds impressive, but industry-wide, flat-panel displays still only make up 4 to 5 percent of the total display market, Gee says.

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