Mon, Nov 12, 2012 - Page 13 News List

ANALYSIS: Rise of Chinese LCD firms threatens local makers

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Hsu did not see significant gap between Chinese and Taiwanese flat panel makers.

“Taiwanese companies only lead in developing new technologies,” Hsu sad.

The trade secret theft case could be a significant victory for AUO as the company is making slow progress in boosting yield rate and ramping up production on new and advanced technologies to keep pace with bigger South Korean rivals Samsung and LG Display Co in high-resolution screens.

AUO has pushed back the mass production of 4.3-inch high-resolution displays — used primarily in smartphones — using AMOLED technology. Originally, the company planned to ramp up production of such displays at the end of last year, but then rescheduled to the second quarter of this year.

Wu Tai-kang (吳大剛), a vice president in charge of AUO’s mobile display business group, said the company “has sent the displays to customers for qualification.”

However, there is still a time lag between qualification procedures and shipping, meaning it will take longer for the company to see revenue contribution from the display.

By contrast, LG Display and Japan’s Sharp Corp are already supplying AMOLED panels for Apple Inc’s popular iPhones and iPads. AMOLED displays are now considered a must-have for high-end smartphones since Apple began using them in its mobile devices.

In addition, both AUO and Chimei are generating slow cash flow, which restricts them from spending big money on expensive equipment for the production of new ultra-high-definition displays.

In China, a market that local panel makers rely on heavily, Chimie and AUO saw their shares of the TV panel market drop to 28 percent and 16 percent respectively, while Chinese rivals BOE Technology Group Co (京東方) and China Star climbed to 15 percent and 8 percent respectively, market researcher NPD DisplaySearch said.

However, NPD DisplaySearch vice president David Hsieh (謝勤益) did not expect local firms to lose more market share to their Chinese rivals.

“We are hearing some noise about pricing [strategies taken by Chinese and Taiwanese panel suppliers] once China Star enters the market, but no material effect is happening now,” Hsieh said.

He did not consider China Star an imminent threat to AUO and Chimei.

“This will not happen in the next two or three years,” Hsieh said on Thursday last week.

That is because China Star only makes 32-inch TV panels at its 8.5G plant and does not plan to make 42-inch TV panels within a year, making it unable to directly compete with AUO and Chimei on this front, Hsieh said.

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