Fri, Nov 14, 2003 - Page 10 News List

LCD panels: `Made in Taiwan'

GLOBAL DOMINANCE The nation's manufacturers already produce about 65% of the panels used to make flat-screen computer displays, and next year it may be 73%

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese manufacturers of the panels used to make flat-screen computer displays are set to grab an even larger slice next year of a global market they now control two-thirds of, analysts said yesterday.

By the end of next year, Taiwan is expected to control 73 percent of the thin-film transistor liquid-crystal display (TFT-LCD) panel market for computer monitors, up from 65 percent of this year, according to a report given yesterday by Li Hsiou-ling (勵秀玲) of the Market Intelligence Center (MIC) under the Institute for the Information Industry.

Falling prices have encouraged more people to buy new computer systems with flat-screen computer monitors and replace the bulky cathode-ray tube (CRT) screens in existing systems.

Worldwide LCD monitor sales are expected to jump almost 60 percent to around 51 million this year compared to last year, Li said, and will grow a further 35 percent next year to over 68.5 million.

"Price is a major factor in the rise of LCD monitors," Li said. "But for the average consumer the current average selling price of between US$300 and US$330 still needs to come down."

Local manufacturers AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), Quanta Display Inc (廣輝電子), HannStar Display Corp (瀚宇彩晶), and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (中華映管) have been increasing production to supply world brandnames like Dell Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co with TFT-LCD panels.

Dell outsources 55 percent of its production to Taiwanese manufacturers, MIC said yesterday, while HP places 90 percent of its LCD monitor orders here.

"I think it is possible for Taiwan's flat-panel makers to break the 70-percent barrier in the computer monitor market next year," said Martha Chen (陳紅), an LCD panel industry analyst with Primasia Securities Co in Taipei.

"They are increasing their production based in China which will probably win them more orders, and they have a ready supply of downstream suppliers," she said.

In a recent report, US-based researcher DisplaySearch already predicted that Taiwan's share of the global flat-panel monitor market would increase to 69 percent in the third quarter from 63 percent in the second.

But when panels for notebook computers, color-screen mobile phones, flat-screen televisions and other consumer products are taken into consideration, Taiwan falls into second place behind rivals in South Korea with 39 percent of the world's total TFT-LCD panel market, compared to South Korea's 43 percent, Japan's 14 percent and China's 3 percent, according to figures released yesterday by MIC.

Taiwan is not expected to overtake South Korea in the next twelve months as manufacturers here were slow in opening more efficient and advanced fifth-generation (5G) facilities which produce bigger panels, or more panels from an original piece of glass.

"The [South] Koreans are well ahead of Taiwanese companies," Chen said. "The Taiwanese are trying to close the gap."

With more than a year's head start on the Taiwanese, the South Koreans have fine-tuned production at their 5G plants so that the number of defective panels has been reduced drastically.

"South Korea's 5G production already has a yield of more than 80 percent," MIC's Ann Hsu (徐美雯) said. "The Taiwanese are facing a shortage of color filters [panel components] and their 5G yield rates are very low."

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