REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - The lone conventional television set at Anderson's TV store sat along a side wall like a castoff. Its screen was dark as dozens of other gleaming flat-panel and big-screen models flashed nearby with vivid color images.
The staff at the Redwood City store hadn't even bothered to turn on the cathode-ray tube TV until a reporter asked to see it on a recent afternoon.
The obvious neglect reflected the wallflower status of today's CRT TVs, as well as the mature technology's doomed future. Experts say the old-fashioned boob tube that catered to generations of Americans will soon be all but extinct.
"It's already dead, but it doesn't know it yet," said Jon Paul Belstler, an audio/video consultant at Anderson's. "It's just trying to hang on."
Across stores and in homes, sleek LCD and plasma televisions are taking over.
In North America, sales of the bulky traditional TVs are in steep decline.
By next year, the tube TV will cede its crown of dominance to LCD sets for the first time, according to the market research firm iSuppli Corp. Sales of CRTs will fall from an estimated 14.4 million units this year to 10.4 million in 2007, while sales of LCD TVs are predicted to rise from 10.9 million units to 17.8 million.
By 2010, iSuppli predicts CRTs will account for only 2.1 million of the 44 million televisions sold.