March 2018 saw a decline in customs duty on open cell panels, used in the manufacture of LCD and LED television panels, to 5 percent. This is encouraging, as it is in response to the industry’s request to correct the anomaly created in the Union Budget announced on February 1, 2018, wherein it became cheaper to import CBUs than assemble them locally. It is expected that with this change, TV manufacturers and OEMs will again come back on track and revive their plans to assemble panels and televisions in the country and it will also provide the requisite impetus to the Make in India initiative. Of course, a net increase by 5 percent remains.
The consumer electronics brands have seen increased investment with continued innovation, expansion into newer segments, and renewed focus on energy efficiency. Products are being integrated with IoT technology for a range of smart TVs and appliances. Virtual reality and artificial intelligence are being brought to consumer electronics. Manufacturers are developing green technologies, redesigning their product offerings, and introducing energy efficient models to decrease running costs.
E-commerce continues to be a disruptor in retail sales. The players are finding newer ways to have an edge over their rivals by offering larger discounts to buyers. Seller fee is renegotiated as vendors are asked to share a larger part of the discounting cost. With many of the roadblocks such as connectivity and logistics being sorted out, the sector is moving toward consolidation. It seems Flipkart is being wooed by both, Walmart and Amazon.
On the international front, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics both have announced that they expect their respective profits in Q1 2018 to be significantly high. While LG’s 3.2 percent higher revenues and 20.2 percent higher operating profit are the highest it ever posted for a Q1, Samsung too expects to post higher revenues by nearly 19 percent in the same period. There is another first here. In face of BOE being unable to provide Samsung large TV panels, the vendor has for the first time signed a cooperation agreement with its significant rival, LG and procured its first consignment for 65-inch and 75-inch panels!