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Do Indian households really need flexible TV sets?

A television (TV) set, which once served just one basic purpose — to bring the world into our homes at the click of a button, has now turned into an aspirational product of sorts. People invest ample amount of both time and money into picking the right TV from a never-ending range, depending on their income levels.

Technology and feature-rich products are always a welcome change, as in the case of TVs, where growing sizes and sleeker designs come mounted with unique features like transparent or foldable screens, crisper colors, advanced connectivity ports, among others.

But what remains to be answered is — are these upgrades making any real difference to a consumer’s life, and does a product serving a purpose so basic warrant such an investment?

Consumer electronics shows across the globe present new prototypes of televisions every year. But these seemingly ‘smart’ TVs are often uber-luxury products, premature for the mass market. So one could also always argue whether a television that can be folded and will probably cost not less than Rs 70 lakh is a necessity. Afterall, the same amount could easily buy you a one-bedroom apartment in suburban Mumbai.

Consider the foldable TV for instance. Prototypes of it have been displayed at consumer electronics shows in 2016 and 2017. However, the TV has not been commercially launched as yet because electronic goods companies admit they do not have the projected sales volumes to sustain value.

While the idea is one of its kind, the question is does an average consumer really need it? And will be able to pay for it? Well, India is still a price sensitive market for all product categories and the TV is not an exception.

When goods and services tax (GST) on appliances was set at 28 percent, a price increase of Rs 5,000 per unit hit companies hard. Sales were down almost 30-40 percent in the post-GST period. This is because customers had either bought stocks before the price increase or were waiting for prices to come down.

Considering the raw material and production costs for the ultra high-end TVs, prices are unlikely to come down. And in that case, an average customer will never be able to afford the product.

Picture quality, sound, and clarity should match the price being paid, but will a trampoline-like stretchable TV make any difference to your viewing experience? If it is at a price range of Rs 10,000-20,000, then it is worth checking out. At Rs 75 lakh? Probably not. – Moneycontrol

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