Mon, Jan 17, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Disruption ahead for displays: iSuppli

LONG AND SHORT OF IT:Display suppliers will gamble their production capacity on meeting tablet customers’ high projections, but may end up scrapping some displays

By Jason Tan  /  Staff reporter

As more PC and smartphone makers join the bandwagon to offer tablets that compete with Apple Inc’s iPads, the global display industry is set to face disruptions this year with both shortages and excess inventories at the same time, a researcher said.

Display makers’ attempts to satisfy booming demand from their various tablet customers was expected to cause the odd -phenomenon, US-based IHS iSuppli said.

“As iPad competitors turn their focus to tablets, the demand for netbook and notebook displays will soften,” Joe Abelson, vice president of displays at iSuppli, said in the report issued last week.

Amid unpredictable tablet sales, display suppliers will be forced to gamble production capacity on the unrealistically high projections of tablet customers, he said.

ISuppli forecast the tablet market to reach 57.6 million this year, up from 17.1 million last year. IPads would enjoy the lion’s share with a 70.4 percent market share, while others, including Hewlett-Packard Co, Research in Motion Ltd, Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) and Acer Inc (宏碁), will compete for the remainder.

With different panel sizes and specifications, the industry should expect to see both significant inventory shortages and excesses to occur throughout the year, potentially accompanied by heavy -discounting or scrapping of unused displays, iSuppli said.

Such disruption should not come as a surprise given the revolutionary impact of the iPad on the global technology market.

“Not since the dawn of television in the 1950s has another electronic device so effortlessly captured the hearts, minds and discretionary spending of so many consumers,” the report added.

While the tablet face-off would dominate much attention, other iSuppli forecasts said this year would see a breakthrough in the manufacturing of active--matrix organic light emitting diode -(AMOLED) displays.

Massive investments in new materials, processes and production capacity will enable a handful of suppliers, including Samsung Electronics Co and LG Electronics Inc, to drive AMOLED penetration deeper into mobile devices.

This may also be the year when premium AMOLED TVs move beyond trade shows and onto retail shelves, it added.

Another notable trend will be the emergence of 3D displays.

“Despite 3D hype last year, it couldn’t overcome the fact that first-generation 3D TVs were unpleasant to watch — assuming viewers could find any 3D content to watch [in the first place],” the report said.

3D capability will soon be added to the checklist for many high-end models, as TV brands have made it their mission to proliferate this technology to more consumers, even at the cost of quality of presentation.

While this may lead to some near-term successes, long-term brand image is at stake, especially if early adopters learn in a year or two that their investments are obsolete because no greatly improved content or technologies have been released, such as glasses-free 3D, the report said.

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