Tablet display market zooming upwards
The tablet display market will grow 56% this year says IHS to reach 127m units up from 82m last year.
With the 9-inch segment dominated by the iPad will account for the majority of tablet display shipments this year, but the fastest-growing portion of the market will the 7.x-inch screens used in products like the Galaxy Tab from Samsung Electronics, the Kindle Fire from Amazon, the Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble, and other tablet products using the Google Android operating system.
Approximately 74.3m units, or 59% of all tablet display panel shipments, will come from the 9.x-inch segment, of which the iPad is the uncontested leader. Growth in the 9.x-inch tablet panel sector this year is forecast to rise 35 % from 55.2m units in 2011.
The second-largest size segment for tablet displays this year will be the 7.x-inch. Shipments of the 7.x-inch tablet display in 2012 will amount to 41.1m units, nearly double from 20.8m units last year.
This means the 7.x-inch category will control 32% of the tablet display space in 2012, compared to 26% in 2011.
The 9.x-inch sector this year is giving up some market share. And while it will continue to lead the tablet panel space this year, the 7.x-inch category will be helped by the launch of lower-priced tablets in that size segment, along with what is widely believed will be a product offering from Apple later this year for a smaller.
Shipments for tablet displays declined by 20% sequentially in the first quarter due to seasonal trends, with tablet device makers trying to flush out a significant amount of inventory that had built up in the fourth quarter of 2011 in light of slower consumer demand.
Tablet panel shipments grew, however, in the second quarter—the result of inventories getting cleared, and of panel orders coming in for the new tablet launches planned for the second half of the year. Total tablet panel shipments in the second quarter reached 27 million units, up nearly 30% from 21m units in the first quarter.
LG Display and Samsung Display were the main suppliers of tablet displays in the first quarter with 4% and 38% shipment market share, respectively.
Both are market leaders because they make the liquid crystal display (LCD) panels that are used in the iPad, which continued to dominate the media tablet space with a commanding 58% of all tablets shipped in the first quarter.
Aside from supplying Apple, LGD also furnishes display panels to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, while Samsung provides panels to its internal tablet division. Investments are being made by the two major tablet panel suppliers in capacity allocation and technological improvements to supply high-performance tablet panels and to develop wide-viewing-angle technologies like in-plane switching (IPS) and fringe-field switching (FFS). Both LGD and Samsung Display are also looking to convert amorphous-silicon fabs into making oxide silicon panels to help improve tablet panel resolution, power consumption and overall performance.
Taiwanese LCD suppliers AU Optronics and ChiMei Innolux are reportedly adjusting their business models—some to focus on tablets for the education sector, and others to supply tablets for the white-box market in China.
It is believed that AUO may be one of the suppliers qualified to supply the smaller iPad’s 7.85-in panels.
But unlike Tier 1 tablet display makers LGD and Samsung Display, Taiwanese panel suppliers primarily target the Chinese market that is geared more toward lower-priced tablets. To meet lower price points, display specifications are usually dialed down compared to Tier 1 products. Displays targeted at the white-box tablet market in China mainly employ the more basic twisted nematic (TN) LCD, not the wide-viewing-angle LCD technologies of IPS and FFS.