Taiwanese flat-panel makers AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電) and Chimei Innolux Corp (奇美電子) are lagging behind their Japanese and South Korean rivals when it comes to the thinner touch-panel technology which is often used in high-end smartphones, a Taipei-based analyst said recently.
Japan’s Sony Mobile Display began mass production of in-cell touch panels in February, IHS Displaybank senior analyst Stone Wu (吳善同) said.
Two other Japanese panel suppliers — Sharp Corp and Toshiba Mobile Display — and LG Display Co of South Korea have also been tapping into Apple Inc’s next-generation iPhone 5 panel supply chain, with the three companies scheduled to start mass production of the smartphone panels before the end of this month, he said.
Similar products made by AUO will not begin mass production until the third or fourth quarter, while Chimei Innolux will not produce any in-cell touch panels this year, Wu said.
“The yield on in-cell panels remains a key issue for most suppliers,” he told reporters in an interview.
“Even for those companies that start mass production in May, they can only reach an average yield of 65 to 70 percent at present,” Wu said, adding that the yield on touch panels used in Apple’s iPhone 4S was about 80 to 85 percent.
Compared with other technologies, touch panels that use in-cell technology can be made thinner because the touch sensors are placed inside color filters rather than on top of them.
The technology will largely be used in high-end smartphones, rather than mid-range and entry-level models, given the higher associated manufacturing cost, Wu said, adding that in-cell panels cost about 20 percent more than high-quality in-plane switching (IPS) panels which are currently used in premium smartphones and tablet computers.
In February, AU Optronics told investors it had completed research and development of in-cell panels and would start product design with customers in the second half of the year.
Wu said AU Optronics’ potential customers will likely be phone makers — possibly Taiwanese — because improving yields on in-cell touch panels measuring less than 5 inches is easier.
IHS Displaybank forecast that touch panel shipments would reach 1.24 billion units this year, up 27.6 percent from the 968 million units shipped last year.
In terms of technology, projected capacitive touch panels will remain the mainstream, accounting for 69.5 percent and 77.2 percent of total touch panel shipments this year and next year respectively, the research firm said.
‘ACCORDING TO PLAN’: A company official said that it has set up production sites worldwide to provide services and that its Wisconsin project was going smoothly Hon Hai Precision Industry Co’s (鴻海精密) smart manufacturing center in Wisconsin would begin trial manufacturing in the middle of this year, the company said yesterday, adding that it plans to build a research institute to develop key technologies to support growth over the next five years. Hon Hai, known internationally as Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團), said in an annual report submitted to the Taiwan Stock Exchange that its planned Foxconn Institute for Research in Science and Technology would conduct research into artificial intelligence, next-generation communications, quantum computing, cybersecurity and nano semiconductors in Taiwan. Hon Hai is to make products at the center
TV and online retailer Momo.com Inc (富邦媒體) yesterday said it has set up a new logistics subsidiary, Fu Sheng Logistics Co (富昇物流), to oversee the company’s extensive shipping operations. Leveraging Momo’s 23 satellite warehouses and distribution centers nationwide, Fu Sheng will be in charge of executing the retailer’s same-day shipment plan for deliveries in Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, Momo said in a press release. Seeking to further shorten its supply chain, the company is to set up another seven satellite warehouses and distribution centers by the end of the year. “Fu Sheng has a fleet of 200 couriers
E Ink Holdings Inc (元太科技), the world’s sole supplier of e-paper displays for e-readers and shelf labels, posted its best quarterly net profit for the first quarter in nine years amid increased demand during a traditionally slow season. Net profit soared 80 percent to NT$787 million (US$26.23 million) in the quarter ended March 31, compared with NT$438 million a year earlier. That translated into earnings per share of NT$0.69, up from NT$0.39. E Ink posted lower royalty income of NT$371.23 million last quarter from NT$448.74 million a year earlier, a company financial statement showed. E Ink said that it expects royalty income to
STAYING AHEAD: Fitch said that TSMC remains technologically ahead of others, but Samsung is building a new chip fab, while China is investing in its domestic industry As escalating US-China tensions and COVID-19-related production disruptions force US technology supply chains to transform, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) US$12 billion chip fabrication plant in Arizona would be key to spurring greater US production of core semiconductor components, Fitch Ratings said. “We view the US-TSMC alliance as a first step in building a more autonomous US technology supply chain, given high barriers to entry, specifically related to the significant capital and design capability required for leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing,” Fitch said in a statement on Tuesday. “By working with TSMC, US chipmakers will not face the financial burden of incremental investment