Despite the twin challenges of a global recession and dwindling desktop PC sales, unit shipments of LCD monitors increased by 3.8 percent in 2009, a far better result than vendors expected in the dark days of January 2009, according to iSuppli Corp.

Global LCD monitor shipments rose to 176.5 million units in 2009, up from 170.1 million in 2008, as presented in the attached figure. The rise in numbers was in marked contrast to a 15.9 percent plunge in the shipments of desktop PCs for the year.

Some of the growth in LCD monitors is attributable to cannibalization of the remaining CRT monitor base as well as to cutthroat pricing, said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitors and sustainable displays at iSuppli.

However, innovation also played a major role in spurring an increase, with vendors reinventing monitor products and luring users by offering something a little bit different.

Innovation will become more critical in 2010 and beyond, added Alexander, as vendors strive to hitch their monitors to a portion of the runaway mobile PC growth while still serving their traditional base-the desktop computer users. iSuppli forecasts that LCD monitor shipments will grow to 211.5 million units by 2013, rising at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.5 percent from 2008.

Given that businesses reduced headcount and slashed equipment expenditures as part of their overall cost-cutting efforts, consumer demand was actually stronger than corporate demand for monitors through most of the downturn.  The mix is shifting, however, from 2010 on, with business customers expected to play an increasingly important role.