Prices of flat panels have been dropping quite steadily ever since they first came to market, but apparently, they could’ve dropped a whole lot lower if it wasn’t for those pesky flat panel manufacturers. Three flat panel makers, LG Display, Sharp, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes (tubes…?) have pleaded guilty to engaging in price fixing schemes to the US Department of Justice, and agreed to a shared USD 585 million fine.
Flat panels are being used in almost every device these days, from water boilers to refridgerators, and usually, they constitute a large part of a computer’s or laptop’s total price. “In the last six months alone, the price of a 15.4-inch panel for a notebook PC has dropped to USD 63, from USD 97, and a 32-inch LCD for a television has gone to USD 223, from USD 321, according to iSuppli, a market research firm,” The New York Times claims. As most of us remember the day when we first opened that box for a 15″ 1024×768 LCD panel for our desktops, we will also feel the pain in our chest where the salesman took out our rib.
The case is not over with the fine, however. The three manufacturers have agreed to cooperate with the US Department of Justice to further the investigation, which is being conducted together with governments in the EU and Asia. The US DOJ states that among other companies, Dell, Apple, and Motorola were negatively affected by the price fixing scheme. They might have a base for a private suit against the three panel makers.